Tas whale stranding mission to scale down

·2-min read

Marine rescuers will scale down their mission to free whales involved in a mass stranding on Tasmania's west coast, as the priority shifts to at-sea burials for about 200 dead animals.

There were no surviving pilot whales left on Ocean Beach near Macquarie Harbour, south of Strahan, as of Saturday, incident controller Brendon Clark confirmed.

However, authorities spotted a small number of whales within the harbour precinct.

"A number of those are still free swimming, however, we do have a couple that are stranded in shallower waters," Mr Clark said.

"We currently have crews responding to those animals and we aim to free them and get them swimming out of the harbour throughout the course of the afternoon."

Plans to remove the carcasses of about 200 whales that died in the mass stranding were progressing, with the operation set to start on Sunday morning depending on the weather, Mr Clark said.

If the weather allows, crews could clear the beach and potentially finish their response to the mass stranding.

"We are looking at rationalising crews and resources as we believe we can start to scale back the operation given the positive results that have been achieved over the last two to three days," Mr Clark said.

The rescue mission on Friday resulted in several whales stranding themselves again, with one dying and another six having to be euthanised on welfare grounds.

Some of the whales appeared to have stranded themselves more than once.

"It's disappointing to lose more whales but trying to refloat and release them again is unlikely to be successful," Mr Clark said on Friday.

Crews from Tasmanian-based salmon farming company Tassal have been among those assisting with the mission, and on Friday helped rescue nine whales, including some that re-beached.

"Employees from other companies assisted ... moving deceased whales four kilometres up the beach ready to be taken out to deep sea," a spokesman said.

Crews intend to tow the whale carcasses out to sea via longlines and release them in very deep water.