Nearly 500 pilot whales stranded in Australia; 380 dead

Full Screen
1 / 9

In this image made from aerial video shows numerous stranded whales along the coastline Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, near the remote west coast town of Strahan on the island state of Tasmania, Australia. More pilot whales were found stranded on an Australian coast Wednesday, raising the estimated total to almost 500 in the largest mass stranding ever recorded in the country. (Australian Broadcast Corporation via AP)

HOBART – More pilot whales were found stranded in Australia on Wednesday, raising the estimated total to nearly 500, including 380 that have died, in the largest mass stranding ever recorded in the country.

Authorities had already been working to rescue survivors among an estimated 270 whales found Monday on a beach and two sand bars near the remote coastal town of Strahan on the southern island state of Tasmania.

Another 200 stranded whales were spotted from a helicopter on Wednesday less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the south, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service Manager Nic Deka said.

All 200 had been confirmed dead by late afternoon.

They were among 380 whales that had died overall, 30 that were alive but stranded and 50 that had been rescued since Tuesday, Deka said.

“We’ll continue to work to free as many of the animals as we can,” he said. “We’ll continue working for as long as there are live animals."

About 30 whales in the original stranding were moved from the sandbars to open ocean on Tuesday, but several got stranded again.

About a third of the first group had died by Monday evening.