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US News Race against time in Tasmania to free nearly 200 cetaceans stuck in a bay

17:25  22 september  2020
17:25  22 september  2020 Source:   lepoint.fr

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Tasmania is a known whale stranding hotspot as the mammals pass it to and from Antarctica. Deka said beachings were not uncommon in the Meanwhile, in a more positive development, a humpback whale that took a wrong turn into a crocodile-infested Northern Territory river has swum free after

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  Course contre la montre en Tasmanie pour libérer près de 200 cétacés coincés dans une baie © Provided by Le Point

A race against time is engaged in Australia to save nearly 200 pilot whales stuck in a remote bay of Tasmania where Another 90 of these cetaceans perished.

"At least 25 mammals have been released so far," said an official in the rescue operation.

Scientists have reported that two large groups of these marine mammals sometimes called "pilot dolphins" washed up on sandbanks in Macquarie Harbor, a vast bay closed off by a narrow pass on the wild and sparsely populated west coast. , from the island.

Videos showed the animals, pilot whales, struggling to get out of the shallows. Rescue boats were sailing around in an attempt to help them get back afloat. In some photos, participants in the operation in diving suits appeared standing, waist-deep in water, near the beached cetaceans.

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Science Times Free Newsletter. Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox! cetaceans .

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Kris Carlyon, a government-employed biologist, said about "a third" of the 270 animals had died Monday evening and that saving the pilot whales still alive would be a "challenge" that could take several days.

But the efforts already seemed to pay off Tuesday, according to the operation manager, with at least 25 animals rescued and escorted to sea by boats, according to Nic Deka, the person in charge of this rescue operation.

"We have managed to free a small number of them that seem to have remained at sea and we are intensifying our efforts," said Mr Deka, also Director of Natural Parks.

Select animals

Strandings of marine mammals are relatively frequent in Tasmania, but this is particularly worrying given the large number of animals concerned.

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Current local time and date in Tasmania , Australia from a trusted independent resource. Are you about to make an International long distance phone call to Tasmania , Australia? Are you planning a trip or preparing for a chat or online meeting?

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About sixty people, including employees of neighboring aquaculture farms, are involved in this rescue operation which is complicated by the cold, humidity and an irregular tidal regime.

Mr. Carlyon estimated that most pilot whales, which are partially underwater, should be able to survive for several days and that this weather, if it was unpleasant for humans, worked in favor of these marine mammals.

"It's a bad time for people, but for cetaceans it's ideal, because of the humidity and the coolness," he told reporters in the nearby town of Strahan, in the north of the bay.

Rescuers will however need to select which animals to save, focusing on those that are most accessible and those that appear to be in better health.

Most of the cetaceans in a group of about 30 washed up on a beach had died on Monday. And it is estimated that around sixty pilot whales stuck on sandbanks have died since then.

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Cetaceans (/sɪˈteɪʃəns/) (from Latin: cetus, lit. 'whale', from Ancient Greek: κῆτος, romanized: kētos, lit. 'huge fish') are aquatic mammals constituting the infraorder Cetacea .

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"It is inevitable that we will lose more," Mr. Carlyon warned. An accurate assessment will be made on Wednesday from the sky using infrared cameras.

When these cetaceans - deeply social animals - are brought back afloat, the other challenge will be to help the band avoid the sandbanks of Macquarie Harbor and return to the high seas.

Famous trap

Scientists are not in able to explain with certainty the reasons for these massive strandings. Mr Carlyon judged it possible that the group had strayed into these stumbling waters getting too close to shore to hunt or that they had followed one or two animals that had stranded.

Karen Stockin, a marine mammal specialist at Massey University, in New Zealand , explained that Tasmania was a place of frequent strandings of pilot whales, a species that is not considered endangered.

"It seems to be a famous trap for whales. There are frequent strandings in this area," she told AFP .

Although pilot whales are among the most resilient cetaceans, rescuers are in a race against time, she added. Among the risks, there is the risk that mammals cannot cool their bodies, that their muscles deteriorate or that some of their organs are crushed due to prolonged contact with the bottom.

Their very social nature can also do them a disservice as some released animals may seek to stay with the group and run aground again.

"Time never works in their favor," she warned. "The faster the rescue operation, the greater the chances of survival."

22/09/2020 13:19:32 - Sydney (AFP) - © 2020 AFP

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