Australia plans disposal of hundreds of stranded whale carcasses

A pilot whale, one of at least 380 stranded that have died, is seen washed up in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast on September 24, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 September 2020

Australia plans disposal of hundreds of stranded whale carcasses

  • Rescuers had managed to free around 70 of the long-finned pilot whales beached off the country’s remote southern coast
  • A rescue team of more than 60 government scientists and volunteers had dashed to the remote location

SYDNEY: Australian officials on Thursday began planning the grim task of disposing of almost 400 whale carcasses as hopes faded there would be many more survivors of one of the world’s biggest mass strandings of the mammals.
Rescuers had managed to free around 70 of the long-finned pilot whales beached off the country’s remote southern coast by Thursday afternoon. The majority of those freed had reached deeper water, officials said, but four were likely to be euthanized and others might return when the tide turns.
The clock was ticking for the remaining 20 whales still floundering in shallow water on a wide sandbank, four days after the 470-strong pod was first spotted off the northwest coast of the island state of Tasmania.
“Beyond the next 24 hours, any remaining animals that are alive will be less viable,” said Nic Deka, the incident controller for the state government’s Parks and Wildlife Service.
As result, authorities were developing a plan to dispose of at least 380 whales at sea, an operation that Deka said could take days.
“Our preference is for disposal at sea, we’re still taking expert advice as to exactly where the drop off point may be,” Deka said, noting the decomposing whales could pose an environmental health risk.
Marine biologists warned the task would be tricky.
“Dealing with over 400 dead whales is a real problem,” said Vanessa Pirotta, a marine scientist at the Macquarie University. “(It) would have to be very far out.”
The stranding, the biggest on record in modern Australia, has drawn attention to a natural phenomenon that remains largely a mystery to scientists.
A rescue team of more than 60 government scientists and volunteers had dashed to the remote location, braving freezing cold waters in an arduous refloating process. As many as four or five people per whale were needed to attach slings to the animals and guide them as they were pulled to deeper water by boats.


Turkey's coronavirus death toll hits record for seventh day in a row

Updated 29 November 2020

Turkey's coronavirus death toll hits record for seventh day in a row

ISTANBUL: Turkey's daily COVID-19 death toll hit a record high for a seventh consecutive day on Sunday, with 185 fatalities in the last 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed.
The number of new cases of coronavirus infections, including asymptomatic ones, fell slightly to 29,281. For four months, Turkey only reported symptomatic cases, but since Wednesday it has reported all cases.
The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic in March stood at 13,558.