Four sperm whales beached in Tasmania

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Rescuers were last night fighting to save the last of four sperm whales that beached in Tasmania’s north yesterday morning.The pod of four whales was discovered on Bakers Beach at Narawntapu National Park by campers yesterday morning – two of the giant mammals already dead, and a third dying soon after.

The Parks and Wildlife Service concentrated efforts on saving the remaining whale, an 11-metre mature female thought to weigh more than 20 tonnes.

With the whale lying on her side at least 50m away from the receding tide, rescuers could do little but keep the whale wet, covering her with blankets to retain moisture and digging sand away from her mouth.

Hopes of saving the whale were set back as the tide reached its height late last night but the whale was unable to right itself.

Efforts were continuing toward keeping her alive until the next high tide this morning about 10.30, when an attempt will be made to get her back to the ocean.

By that time the whale will have been beached for at least 24 hours, but rescuers were constantly buoyed yesterday by the whale’s stable condition as she regularly flapped her tail fluke against the sand.

Primary Industries, Water and Environment Department Resource Management and Conservation Wildlife Operations team leader Mike Greenwood said having the whale move upright was the critical factor.

“We need a mini-miracle. She’s so big, we can’t physically help her move, so she needs to do it on her own when high tide comes in. If she can do that, then tomorrow we can look at trying to get her back to the water,” he said.

Mr Greenwood said the condition of the whale was encouraging as the rescue progressed.

“She’s moving her tail around, and while that’s using energy, it also means she’s not stiffening up and it also means she’s got mental activity. They are the two most important factors, because we need her to get herself upright,” he said.

“For whatever reason, she’s managed to stay alive for much longer than the others,” he said of the pod, which beached along more than a kilometre of the beach.

Samples of the dead whales, all females, will be taken for analysis.

Mr Greenwood said it was too early to know whether any of the whales was ill at the time of beaching.

The area was subject to a fierce lightning storm the night before the beaching.

Source: News.com.au network