HOBART, Australia — The reason for Australia’s biggest mass whale stranding will probably remain a mystery but the social nature of the species involved may have played a part, a marine mammal specialist said Saturday.

Officials said 108 of some 470 long-finned pilot whales had been rescued from sandbars at Macquarie Harbour on the island state of Tasmania’s west coast. There are no living whales remaining in the harbor, the Parks and Wildlife Service said.

The pod got into trouble earlier this week, with efforts now turning to the task of disposing 350 carcasses at sea, which the wildlife service said will take a number of days.

Pilot whales are known for stranding in mass groups. The top five largest beachings in Tasmania, dating to the early 1800s, all are from the same species.

David Hocking, a marine mammal scientist at Monash University in Melbourne, said pilot whales form strong family bonds and can travel in groups of up to 1,000.

“If one or a few animals get themselves into trouble, they put out a distress call,” Hocking said. “Rather than running away, their instinct is to come together as a group because they have safety in numbers. But that means a few animals getting into trouble means they call more animals into that same area.”

Long-finned pilot whales are more closely related to dolphins and rely on echolocation, a series of rebounding clicks, to navigate.

Australia’s largest mass stranding had previously been 320 pilot whales near the Western Australia state town of Dunsborough in 1996. Tasmania’s previous largest stranding involved 294 whales on the northwest coast in 1935.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Social media speculates that Julian Edelman may have briefly unfollowed Tom Brady on Instagram

NFL great Tom Brady leaves New England Patriots; insight from Fox News contributor Jim Gray. Patriots star wide receiver Julian Edelman appeared to briefly unfollow former teammate Tom Brady on Instagram Tuesday after news broke that Rob Gronkowski was joining his…

Israel’s regional gas exports lead to hopes for diplomacy

About 130 kilometers (80 miles) west of the port city of Haifa and 1,700 meters (5,500 feet) below sea level, the Leviathan gas field was discovered nearly a decade ago. It contains Israel’s largest supplies of natural gas in the Mediterranean.…

Sichuan ups flood response level to highest

Neijiang issues orange alert as more thunderstorms threaten the region Sichuan province raised its flood-control response to Level I on Tuesday morning, the highest of its four-tier emergency response system. This is the first time the province has triggered a…

Has time in lockdown made you want to approach life differently?

Living in lockdown has put everyone under strain, but it may also have given some of us time to take stock and work out what we really want from life. Perhaps this time away from normality will help us reflect…