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Australia Whale rescue on Tasmania's West Coast leaves lasting mark on volunteers

01:40  28 september  2020
01:40  28 september  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

Kakadu whale swims out of croc-infested NT river, bound for home in Antarctica

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They believe Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania ' s west coast is now clear of live whales . A statement released by the Tasmanian government on Saturday confirmed that 108 long-finned pilot whales which had survived the stranding had been released outside the heads at Macquarie Harbour.

Race to Rescue Hundreds of Whales Stranded Off Tasmania . About 270 pilot whales became stranded on the west coast of Tasmania . Rescuers estimate that a third of them have already died.CreditCredit Brodie Weeding/The Advocate, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.

a group of people standing next to a body of water: Trevor Norton (far left) helps his team attend to a pilot whale stranded on Tasmania's West Coast. (ABC News: Laura Beavis) © Provided by ABC NEWS Trevor Norton (far left) helps his team attend to a pilot whale stranded on Tasmania's West Coast. (ABC News: Laura Beavis)

Trevor Norton spends most of his time restoring his 20-metre yacht Stormbreaker and taking tourists up and down the wild rivers which empty into Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast.

But last week the Strahan local found himself part of a team of volunteers working to keep a stranded pilot whale upright and cool before it could be returned to the ocean.

Mass whale strandings in Tasmania are not uncommon and pilot whales are the 'main culprits', scientists say

  Mass whale strandings in Tasmania are not uncommon and pilot whales are the 'main culprits', scientists say As rescuers prepare to try to save a large pod of stranded whales off Tasmania's West Coast, researchers explain such events are not uncommon in that state, with one scientist saying he helped a pod in distress at the same spot in 2011.On Monday, around 270 pilot whales got into difficulty on a sandbank at Macquarie Heads, near Strahan on Tasmania's west coast, about 190 kilometres from Hobart.

Approximately 25 whales from the pod of 270 were freed on Tuesday but about one-third have died.

Nearly 400 whales have died in Australia' s worst stranding, and rescuers are racing against the clock to save pilots whales who are beached on the west coast of Tasmania . Whale rescue expert Jools Farrell, Vice President of ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in

The experience has changed the way the son of a fisherman thinks about the marine mammals, which he said he previously regarded as "just another fish".

"They're such a large animal, they're obviously fairly intelligent and the whole process of being a human communicating so closely with an animal like that on the beach, it's just an amazing, amazing thing to do," Mr Norton said.

"I was just thinking, 'Imagine if we were in the water and another animal was keeping us alive, doing the same thing, what would we be thinking?'"

Last Monday, 470 pilot whales became stranded in Macquarie Harbour and while most died, rescuers saved 109.

Authorities hope that by the end of today most of the carcasses will have been towed out to sea.

Rescue switched to removal on the weekend, with Parks and Wildlife staff liaising with the CSIRO and aquaculture companies on the best way to remove the carcasses.

Australia saves 25 stranded pilot whales, rescue efforts continue

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Whale rescuers at one of the world’s largest stranding events on Tasmania ’ s west coast have now released 88 of the 470 marine mammals into the ocean, with about 20 of those remaining now well enough to be rescued . Vets at the scene in Macquarie Harbour recommended four of the long-finned

Incredible scenes on Tasmania ’ s west coast . A large pod of whales is stranded, with a significant rescue operation underway @abchobart. He also said that pilot whales are a robust species and the survivors have a chance of lasting several days if the weather stays cool.

The team Trevor was a part of tended to three whales on a beach on Friday and all three survived.

'They seemed to know we were helping them'

On the beach alongside the treacherous passage into Macquarie Harbour — known as Hells Gates — the volunteer rescuers had to brace themselves against large waves that threatened to tip the whale over, while ensuring they themselves would not be crushed by the three-tonne animal.

Trevor stood near at the side of a whale, avoiding the tail which can injure rescuers, with a bucket of cool water at the ready, and other volunteers were stationed near the animals head, washing sand out of its eyes.

He said each whale responded differently to its human helpers.

"Some were quite subdued and you're also getting concerned about whether they were on their last legs, whether they're dying or not, or whether they're actually responding to you saying, 'I'm OK now, these other animals are keeping us upright and helping us breathe, they're keeping us cool'."

Australia counts record 470 stranded whales as rescue continues

  Australia counts record 470 stranded whales as rescue continues Australia counts record 470 stranded whales as rescue continuesAs a rescue effort began its third day off the southern island's rugged west coast, rescuers said they spotted another large group of pilot whales during an aerial reconnaissance of remote Macquarie Harbour, and most were believed to be dead.

Tasmania ' s previous biggest stranding was in 1935 with 294 pilot whales . Its last mass stranding was in 2009 and involved about 200 pilot whales . image captionThe pilot whales have become stranded on Tasmania ' s west coast . Rescue efforts had been hampered by a strong tide which had brought

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka said marine specialists and rescuers were trialing rescue efforts to determine the best rescue method. "We'll be trying to free some whales this morning and if we're met with the methods we've settled on, we'll keep doing that, if not, we'll adapt it

Mr Norton said at times he felt like the whale was working with the volunteers.

"I was amazed how placid they were, I was amazed that they seemed to know we were helping them."

"We even think that in time they were getting used to our rhythm of what we were doing as well.

"Their breathing is important, so when you're putting buckets of water on them you make sure you do it between breaths, so you're waiting for them to take a breath, they close their blowhole, then you can dampen them down.

"It's amazing how well the whole system worked, because each whale is almost a different project because of the different environment in each individual station."

Mr Norton said he hoped the surviving pod did not become stranded again.

"I was saying: 'Right, you've got to tell all your offspring that Macquarie Harbour's a nasty spot, we lost a whole lot of relatives in there a few years ago, don't go in there and do it again!'"

'We clocked up a lot of wins'

Marine ecologist Julie McInnes got a call asking if she would come help with the rescue operation last Monday night.

The researcher with the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) has helped tend to stranded and beached whales before and was on a list of trained volunteers who can assist in similar incidents.

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Desperate stories emerge from the battle to save pilot whales and their calves in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania ’ s west coast . For the past 25 years she has been responsible for training Tasmanian government staff and volunteers using inflatable dummy whales .

Nearly 400 whales have died in Australia' s worst stranding, and rescuers are racing against the clock to save pilots whales who are beached on the west coast of Tasmania . Whale rescue expert Jools Farrell, Vice President of ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in

She said the unusual nature of the stranding, with most of the whales in shallow waters in the harbour meant rescuers had to stand for hours in the water with the whales.

"It's been quite challenging physical conditions, they're not small animals, sometimes they're on a sandbar where you have to pull them quite a way to get them to the boat," Dr McInnes said.

"You do get quite cold but they've got a great set up here with the fire pit and some hot drinks … you can get out of the water and get on dry land and warm up and then get back out there again."

Dr McInnes said the rescuers tried to focus on the positive effect they were having even when some of the animals did not survive.

"Without our assistance they would be pretty compromised out there, so each one you can help in any capacity, whether that's to relieve their suffering or get out there and free them, it's part of the job and part of what we signed up to do and yeah, any relief we can give them is what we aim for at the moment."

Knowing she had helped save 109 whales made the hard work worth it, she said.

"It's really rewarding and I think each day you've got to celebrate those wins and there's certainly a lot of wins that we've clocked up on the board."

"It's been just incredible to be part of … I think we all felt it might not be achievable at the start, so it's been a really fabulous effort by everyone."

Mass whale stranding in Strahan leaves locals trying to absorb 'heartbreaking' reality

  Mass whale stranding in Strahan leaves locals trying to absorb 'heartbreaking' reality While the country watched from afar, locals in Strahan have spent the week coming to terms with 470 whales stranding in the waters near their picturesque Tasmanian village, which quickly became a "mass graveyard".These are the words being overheard in conversations around Strahan on Tasmania's West Coast, as locals try to come to terms with Australia's worst mass whale stranding.

'They were definitely talking to each other'

Surf Lifesaving Tasmania volunteer Julian Moore had helped rescue plenty of people from Tasmanian waters, but never whales.

"We were told to stay with them, move them side to side, because they go numb from just lying on the beach and not having any movement so moving them around gets their circulation going which when they release them helps them swim and hopefully not come back," he said.

"It wasn't warm, but Surf Tasmania luckily has a good supply of dry suits, so all our members were quite comfortable and we can stay there for long periods without any issues."

Since Tuesday, Mr Moore and a team of other lifesavers had been supervising water safety during the operation and ferrying rescuers to and from the shore, as well as helping lift whales onto mats and trailers and securing them to sides of boats that guided them into deeper waters.

He said the whales seemed comfortable with their human companions but were constantly making noises to one another.

"You could definitely hear that they were talking to each other, it actually was really surprising I guess to see how much they communicated with each other."

The best feeling came when Mr Moore was part of a boat crew that escorted whales out of the harbour into the safety of the open ocean.

"Being out there and letting them go, and to see them swim off and heading towards the sea was a really positive moment for us on the boat."

Drone footage shows Bryde's whales joining surfers near Byron Bay .
Sydney photographer Daniel Cook, 43, filmed two Bryde's whales (one pictured) riding waves with surfers to propel them into a school of bait fish at Seven Mile Beach near Lennox Head.Sydney photographer Daniel Cook, 43, used his drone to film the 12-metre whales from above at Seven Mile Beach near Lennox Head, south of Byron, on Wednesday.

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