Whale carcasses wash up on Hamelin Bay prompting shark warning

Staff reportersThe West Australian
VideoParks and Wildlife officers are still trying to identify ones that are still alive.

Authorities say only 15 of the 150 short-finned pilot whales that stranded en masse at Hamelin Bay, 10km north of Augusta early Friday morning, are still alive.

Parks and Wildlife Service staff with veterinary assistance and support of Sea Search and Rescue, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and trained volunteers are working to ensure the welfare of the surviving whales.

Incident Controller Jeremy Chick said the 15 live whales were currently in shallow waters and the plan was to herd them out to deeper waters by late afternoon, weather dependent.

“Unfortunately, most of the whales beached themselves on dry land overnight and have not survived,” he said. “There are only 15 surviving in shallow waters and we hope to move them out to sea later today.

“Rescue operations will be hampered by deteriorating, weather conditions and we need to ensure the safety of everyone involved before we move the whales.”

Mr Chick said the department had received many offers of help from the community and thanked them for their support, however there were enough trained staff and volunteers on site and people were asked to avoid the area.

The department is working with the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to remove the deceased whales from the beach. Parks and Wildlife Service officers are taking DNA samples from the deceased whales to try and determine possible clues for why whales strand.

Hamelin Beach remains closed from Hamelin Caravan Park to North Point including Grace Road and Reserve Road.

A shark alert has been issued for the area.

Eerily, it is nine years to the day since dozens of pilot whales were stranded at the same beach.

On March 23, 2009, more than 70 whales died in a mass stranding at Hamelin Bay.

Volunteers worked through the night to try and save 15 whales on the beach, although only five survived.

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