A stranded pilot whale has died in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's rugged west coast, only weeks after hundreds perished in a mass stranding in the same place.
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment were unable to save the whale after four of them became stuck on Saturday afternoon.
The whales - a large one and three smaller ones - were believed to have been swimming in deeper waters of the harbour near Strahan since the mass stranding three weeks ago.
Wildlife biologist Sam Thalmann confirmed one of the small whales had died, but that the other three were successfully returned to sea on Sunday afternoon.
"The harbour is a large, complex marine environment, with very dark waters and an intricate shoreline making detection of these whales difficult," he said in a statement earlier on Sunday.
DPIPWE will do an aerial survey of the harbour and beaches to make sure no other whales are stranded.
About 470 long-finned pilot whales were found beached on sandbars at Macquarie Harbour in late September - the biggest mass stranding on record in Australia.
After a week-long rescue effort only 111 could be saved, leaving authorities with the gruesome task of disposing of more than 350 carcasses.