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Australia plans to dispose of hundreds of stranded whale carcasses



SYDNEY (Reuters)-Australian officials on Thursday focused on the grim task of disposing of nearly 400 whale carcasses, and efforts to save the few survivors of one of the world’s worst nooses are expected to be extended by another day.

On September 22, 2020, a whale was lying on the beach during a rescue operation in Port Macquarie, Tasmania, Australia. This photo was obtained from social media. Bilal Rashid via REUTERS

Late on Thursday, rescuers managed to release nearly 90 albacore whales on the beaches off the country’s remote southern coast.

Officials say that most of the released have reached deeper water, but four must be euthanized, while others may return when the tide changes.

To this day, only a small group of whales still struggling in shallow water on a wide sandbank is ticking, four days after 470 pods were first discovered on the northwest coast of Tasmania.

State Government Parks and Wildlife Service Incident Director Nic Deka said: “Tomorrow we may continue to carry out rescue work.”

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He said at the press conference: “Although we have the opportunity to live animals and we have staff to transfer them, we will still let go.”

After a positive veterinary evaluation, Friday will continue to rescue a female calf appearing in the footage posted on Twitter by local media. The video shows the calf swimming while the rescuer is trying to save his mother.

In addition to these measures, the authorities have also developed a plan to dispose of approximately 380 dead whales at sea.

Dika said options include loading the corpses on a barge or towing them together, adding that the crane-equipped barge is scheduled to arrive on Monday.

“It may actually take a few days. We intend to start tomorrow. If we find an effective method, it may not be until the beginning of next week before we can truly succeed.”

“Ethics and Humanities”

Experts say that euthanizing animals that are exhausted and unable to swim is another arduous and necessary task.

“For large whales, it is very sad that they may take a few weeks to die, and they blisters in the sun, so you will consider doing something ethical and humane,” the zoologist in charge of Australian marine research Mike Double Mammal Center told Reuters.

Large whales may require lethal potassium chloride doses to the heart or explosives, while smaller whales like albacore pilots are usually shot by guns.

Deca said more whales may be euthanized on Friday.

Dika said that this work has caused physical and emotional losses to rescuers, and new staff will arrive the next day, adding that they are providing consultation to relevant personnel.

Kris Carlyon, a wildlife biologist in the department, said: “Emotional losses can be significant.”

“Most crew members actually only focus on getting the job done, so it may take a while before they start to really think about it and start to get stuck.”

More than 60 government scientists and volunteers rushed to remote areas, braving the freezing cold water through the arduous freezing process.

Each whale requires up to four or five people to secure the slings to these animals and guide them as they are dragged into deeper water by the boat.

The twisted strand is the largest twisted strand ever recorded in modern Australia and one of the largest twisted strands in the world. It has attracted people’s attention to natural phenomena, and this phenomenon is still a mystery for scientists to a large extent.

Reporting by Colin Packham and Paulina Duran; Editing by Jane Wardell and Mike Collett-White


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