beached whales in Australia
Credit: FERNANDO CASTILLO/Getty Images

A mass stranding of around 150 short-finned pilot whales took place at Hamelin Bay in Western Australia today, Friday, March 23rd. As of 7 p.m. local time, only six whales could be saved by wildlife officials and volunteers. It’s estimated that the remaining 140 plus beached whales did not survive.

Moving the beached whales at night proved difficult for the rescuers first on the scene due to rough waves and rocky beach terrain, despite the fact that so many people showed up to help.

Over 100 locals arrived to provide aid to Sea Search and Rescue officials and officials from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Whales often accidentally strand themselves during migration periods. But the number of whales involved in this mass beaching makes this an unusual case. Hamelin Bay local Melissa Lay said this is one of two mass strandings she’s seen in the area in 15 years.

The last stranding yielded no surviving whales, Lay added.

Although it’s not uncommon for short-finned pilot whales to strand themselves, it’s still a mystery as to why so many beached themselves at the same time. The whales have a strong sense of bonding and a group mentality, New Zealand whale charity Project Jonah told CNN, which could have contributed to the tragedy.

Weather, which can affect the whales’ sonar, and confusing coastal topography could have also played a part in this mass beaching.

We’re sending our love and appreciation to all those who offered their help today.