Marine Conservation Program wildlife biologist Dr Kris Carlyon said in a statement that rescuers have done a tremendous job saving the whales. “We only had one whale left overnight, which is a good result considering that 20 whales were released yesterday,” Carlyon said.
“Each whale rescued is an incredible result given the complex conditions and is a testament to the hard and skillful work the response team is undertaking,” said Peter Gutwein, Prime Minister of Tasmania, in a statement. “At times like these, Tasmanians come together to respond as quickly and compassionately as possible.
Rob Buck, incident controller and director of the Parks and Wildlife Service, said officials have so far eliminated 15 whales at sea to test the method of elimination. He expects the task to take several days depending on wind, tide and other conditions.
The bodies of the whales are separated into pods and surrounded by hydraulic dams, with the aim of keeping them in one place, isolated from sharks and other marine life.
“Collection and disposal is undertaken with the help of aquaculture companies whose equipment and expertise at the port is essential for a quick and efficient result,” Buck said.
“We know it’s hard for people to watch from afar and thank the community for allowing our teams to focus on the critical work required for the response,” Buck said.
Authorities expect the very social whales that have been rescued to eventually “regroup” and recover from the traumatic event.
While massive whale strandings occur relatively often in Tasmania, such a large group has not been seen in the region for over a decade. The causes remain unknown – however, some researchers have suggested that the whales may have skidded after feeding near shore or following a whale or two that strayed.
Officials said it was possible that whales could be found in the vicinity in the coming days and asked residents to report the sightings.