More whales have been discovered stranded off the coast of Australia, meaning almost 500 of the animals now make up the biggest mass stranding ever recorded on Tasmania.
In the remote town of Strahan, rescuers had been scrambling to save the survivors among what is thought to be 270 pilot whales on Monday, from a beach and two sand banks.
However, a further 200 stranded whales were seen from the air on Wednesday, less than six miles (10km) to the south of those, according to Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service Manager Nic Deka.
“From the air, they didn’t look to be in a condition that would warrant rescue,” Mr Deka said. “Most of them appeared to be dead.”
Crews will be sent to the creatures by boat, to assess whether they can be saved or not, Mr Deka added.
Rescuers moved around 30 of the stranded whales from their original position to the open seas, however, many of them became stranded again.
Officials estimate around a third of the original group of whales had died by Monday evening, with a further update expected later on Wednesday.
The Australian island is the only part of the country prone to mass whale strandings, with the current one being the first since 2009 to involve more than 50, and is the biggest ever recorded by the government.
Pilot whales are a species of oceanic dolphin that grow to seven metres (23ft) long and can weigh up to three tonnes.
Drawing them back out to sea can include physically pushing the animals or using specialised tarpaulins and pontoons to drag them to deeper water. Rescuers try to keep the whales upright to avoid disorientation.
Scientists do not know why whales, which travel together in pods, sometimes beach themselves but they are known to follow a leader, as well as gather around an injured or distressed whale.
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