Mass whale stranding near Perth

A pod of pilot whales have stranded on a remote beach on Australia's southwest coast, with almost all of the estimated 150 mammals dying.

Commercial fisherman spotted the short-finned pilot whales at Hamelin Bay, about 300km south of Perth.

Latest reports have just six of the whales still alive early on Saturday morning.

Rescuers were struggling to herd the survivors out into deeper water. Wet and windy weather made the rescue challenging.

A report on the Live Science website suggests that large groups of short-finned pilot whales are vulnerable to mass strandings because of loud, human-made sounds, such as navy sonar.

Other mass-stranding events involving this species happened during times of high human-made noise in their environment, such as one incident around Taiwan in 2004 that coincided with a large-scale military exercise.

Short-finned pilot whales live in tropical waters around the world, usually in deep offshore regions. They grow to about five metres long, and primarily eat fish and squid.

Local authorities have issued a shark alert. The Western Australia Department of Fisheries said it was possible the dead and dying animals will act as an attractant, which could lead to sharks coming close into shore along this stretch of coast.


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