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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 11:16 GMT
Whales found dead in Tasmania
Beached whales
Scientists are not sure what causes whales to beach themselves
Over 100 pilot whales and 10 dolphins have been found dead after beaching themselves on Australia's island state of Tasmania.

Experts said that they had counted 110 long-finned pilot whales and 10 bottle-nosed dolphins, which appeared to have been dead for several days.

They were discovered by a diver near the port of Strahan on a remote spot on Tasmania's west coast on Monday.

Scientists are not certain what causes whales and other ocean mammals to beach themselves.

Theories range from a misguided herd instinct to diseases which disrupt the animals' navigation system.

But one of the specialists at the site, David Pemberton of the Tasmanian Museum, said the fact that both whales and dolphins were involved had other implications.

"When it's a mixed stranding like this, you start to get suspicious about external factors," he said.

He said that the mammals may have been involved in a "frenetic feeding frenzy" that took them too close to shore, or that they had been driven to the beach by a predator such as a killer whale.

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