Stranded whales put down by vet
By Miranda Korzy
TOOREGULLUP BEACH, W.Aust, 27 July , 2002 - AN overnight vigil with eight stranded false killer whales on the West Australian south coast has ended in tragedy for the animals with the survivors put down.
Local fisherman came across 58 whales stranded at Tooregullup Beach, about 180km east of Albany, late yesterday afternoon, said WA Conservation and Land Management (CALM) department executive director Keiran McNamara.
The fishermen managed to return six of the whales to the water but 44 of the animals had already died, Mr McNamara said.
Rescue attempts had been hampered because of the sighting of a white pointer shark in the area.
The waters off the beach were also a breeding ground for bronze whaler sharks, he said.
Wildlife officers and a vet from Albany tried to stabilise the eight animals remaining on the beach overnight and planned to rescue them in the morning.
However, by first light two further animals had died with the rest extremely weak and distressed.
The most humane action had been to euthanase the whales, Mr McNamara said.
"The decision to call off rescue attempts is not taken lightly," he said in a statement.
"It is a hard call and is only made after every possible avenue of success has been explored."
Samples from the animals had been taken for a post mortem.
Very soft sand and a rising tide were preventing a machine coming in to move the 52 whale bodies which were now stuck on the beach, a CALM spokesman said.
However, an air survey of the area about 100km either side of the beach revealed no evidence of further strandings, the spokesman said.
False killer whales are between 4.5 and 5.5 metres long and can weigh around one tonne.
Found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters, they favour deep water but occasionally come close to the beach.
Pod of 54 whales die on Australian coastline
SYDNEY - A pod of 54 whales died after washing up on a remote stretch of beach near the Great Australian Bight, conservation officials said. Western Australian Conservations and Land Management (CALM) workers said they feared the carcasses - weighing up to five tonnes each - would be devoured by sharks before a mass grave could be dug along Tooregullup Beach, on the Indian Ocean southeast of Perth.
Local fisherman came across the whales, known as False Killers, late on Friday, Peter Lambert, a wildlife specialist for CALM told Reuters.
"Most of the whales were already dead, but we had to shoot seven, they were just too far gone to survive," Lambert said. "It was very sad."
The all black False Killer Whale is similar to the better known grey and white Killer Whale. Rescue attempts had been hampered because the waters were notorious breeding grounds for sharks, Lambert said.
"These waters are heavily patrolled by Great Whites and Bronze Whalers," he said.
Wildlife officers and a veterinarian tried unsuccessfully to stabilise some of the whales, Lambert said.
Soft sand and a rising tide were preventing bulldozers moving the carcasses quickly, he said.
False Killer Whales are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters. They favour deep water but occasionally come close to the beach.
Attempts Fail to Rescue Whales
PERTH, Australia, 30 JULY, 2002 (AP) - Nearly 60 whales stranded on an Australian beach have died or were euthanized after failed attempts to return them to the water, officials said Saturday.
Local fisherman found the 58 false killer whales stranded late Friday on Tooregullup Beach, about 360 miles southeast of Perth, the Western Australia state capital, said Keiran McNamara, spokesman for the state's Conservation and Land Management department.
McNamara said the fishermen managed to return six of the whales to the water, but 44 of the animals had already died.
Attempts to rescue the remaining eight whales were hampered by the sighting of a white pointer shark in the area. The waters off the beach also are a breeding ground for bronze whaler sharks, McNamara said.
Wildlife officers and a veterinarian tried to stabilize the eight whales overnight and planned to rescue them in the morning. However, by dawn Saturday two of the animals had died, and the rest were weak and distressed and were killed to end their suffering.
An air survey of the area about 60 miles either side of the beach revealed no evidence of other whales stranded.
Whale beaching are largely a mystery to scientists, but some suspect there is a link between stranded whales and powerful sonar equipment used by navies that interferes with the whales guidance frequencies and disorients the animals.
False killer whales are 15 to 18 feet long and weigh about a ton. They are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters.
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