Incredibly, a pod of about a hundred whales was photographed huddling together just off the coast of Western Australia, just before a catastrophic event took place.
On Tuesday (25 July), hundreds of whales were spotted swimming close to the coast off Cheynes Beach in southern Washington.
Photos of the whales were posted to Facebook by the Western Australian Parks and Wildlife Service, which said the DBCA Parks and Wildlife Service Albany District had responded to reports of a pod of long-finned pilot whales.
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions (DBCA) officers were on hand to observe the pod’s behavior and movements as images captured the whales making a heart shape in the water.
“We ask the public to keep their distance and refrain from approaching the pod via drones or vessels,” the wildlife service said.
Sadly, the gorgeous image didn’t last long, as an update was shortly uploaded to the website stating that the pod had begun to strand on the beach.
There were many people who wanted to aid the whales, and DBCA authorities moved fast to try to handle the situation.
Veterinarians from the Perth Zoo and marine fauna specialists were also dispatched to the scene.
Dr. Vanessa Pirotta, a marine biologist, told Sky News that seeing the pod on the shore was “incredible,” but that scientists have “no idea” why the whales did it.
“I personally have never seen anything like this. Pilot whales are largely an offshore species. They are very social. They hang out together. But like this? This is super unusual,” she said.
The reaction teams had boats and slings at the ready in an attempt to save the whales, but as of 8:15 a.m. today, it was reported that 51 of the marine mammals had passed away.
“Parks and Wildlife Service personnel are working in partnership with registered volunteers and other organisations to try to return the remaining 46 whales to deeper water during the course of the day,” a post on Facebook read.
“Thanks so much for the messages of support.The Parks and Wildlife Service has been overwhelmed with hundreds of offers of help to rescue the stranded whales, and we now have enough registered volunteers.”
The service urged members of the public to stay away from the beach for ‘safety reasons’, explaining: “The priority focus of the Incident Management Team is to ensure the safety of staff and volunteers and the welfare of the whales.
“The response zone has a range of hazards, including large, distressed and potentially sick whales, sharks, waves, heavy machinery and vessels.”
The newest report from the wildlife service congratulated the day’s 250 volunteers and 100 employees from the Parks and Wildlife Service and other organizations for their efforts in keeping 45 pilot whales alive.
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Dr. Pirotta told ABC that plausible causes of the stranding include the whales congregating around a sick member of the pod, becoming lost owing to navigational difficulties, or relocating to escape orcas hunting nearby.
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