Mystery when 14 dead sperm whales wash up on King Island | TNZT



At least 14 dead sperm whales have washed up on King Island, north of Tasmania.

The whales appeared to be young males and were already dead when they washed ashore Monday afternoon, Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment confirmed on Tuesday.

Wildlife biologists and a veterinarian travel to the island to conduct research, while on-site Parks and Wildlife Services staff monitor the situation.

They also checked from the air whether there were other whales in the area.

“It’s possible the whales were part of the same bachelor group — a group of younger male sperm whales that mated after they left the mother group,” a department spokesperson told AAP in a statement.

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“Members of the public are being reminded that it is an offense to disturb protected wildlife, including possessing parts of a dead whale, and are asked to keep their distance.”

Surfers and swimmers were also asked to avoid the immediate area, as the carcasses can attract sharks.

Conservation and technology expert Dr. Vanessa Pirotta said King Island had been the scene of several strandings over the years, but what caused it remained “a complete mystery.”

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“We just don’t know why this is happening,” she told TNZT News.

“That’s the million dollar question every time this kind of event happens.”

It’s only been two years since hundreds of whales died after being stranded on Tasmania’s west coast.

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The 470 long-finned pilot whales were found on sandbanks in Macquarie Harbor in September 2020, which was Australia’s largest mass stranding ever.

After a week-long rescue attempt, only 111 whales could be rescued, forcing authorities to dispose of more than 350 carcasses.

Dr Pirotta said the latest event may have been caused by a navigational error or the group following a whale heading for shore.



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