A total of 28 whales – 27 pilot whales and one humpback – have been found dead on a beach in the remote southeast of Australia today (Wednesday 28 November) after a mass stranding.
The grim discovery comes hot on the heels of 145 pilot whales stranding and dying on the shoreline of New Zealand over the weekend.
The Australian stranding was spotted by a pilot flying a private plane over Croajingolong National Park in Victoria State yesterday afternoon. An initial visit by park authorities later that same day discovered that eight of the pilot whales were still alive but in a critical state, and by the time rangers returned today, all the animals had died.
The humpback whale is thought to have died well before the rest in a separate stranding incident.
No one knows exactly why whales strand themselves, but it is believed factors such as sickness, navigational errors, predators, extreme weather and tides can all play a role.
Over on New Zealand, the tragic news continued, as it was reported that seven of the remaining eight pygmy whales that were rescued by the Department of Conservation, locals and marine mammal charity Project Jonah and released yesterday, subsequently restranded and had to be put down. The remaining whale is still offshore and being closely monitored.
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