At least 34 dolphins have been found dead on an Australian beach, prompting a call for the public to keep their distance.
The animals are believed to be a species of pilot whales, the world’s largest oceanic dolphins. They were discovered along the remote Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania’s east coast.
Images supplied to Yahoo News Australia by authorities show dozens of dead animals splayed out along the empty coastline. Some of the contorted bodies have been almost completely reclaimed by the sand.
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A short statement from Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources (NRETas) said pilot whale deaths are common in the state, but the case of the most recent incident remains a mystery.
“Staff, including a wildlife veterinarian, are on site today to assess the situation and sample and measure the carcasses,” it said. “It is not known why the whales stranded and is often not possible to determine.”
Mass dolphin strandings not uncommon in Tasmania
Australia’s worst-ever stranding event occurred in 2020, when 450 long-finned pilot whales were found on the west coast of the island state.
Last year there was another major stranding incident which resulted in 200 dying, although rescuers were able to return more than 30 to deeper water. While it’s common for pilot whales to be returned to the water in Australia, on Europe’s Faroe Islands, locals will drive them into the harbour and slaughter them for meat.
While the practice remains controversial, islanders say it is a form of hunting that’s indigenous to the island. If you're in Tasmania and would like to report a whale or dolphin in need, you can contact the state's whale hotline on 0427 WHALES (0427 942 537).
More to come
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