Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Sunday, 30 November 2008

Beached whales die in Australia


About 150 whales have died after being stranded in a remote coastal area of the Australian island of Tasmania.

Many of the long-finned pilot whales, which were discovered on Saturday, had been badly injured by jagged rocks.

Rescuers did manage to shepherd about 30 whales trapped in shallow reefs to safety using a small boat, an official said.

Whales pass Tasmania as they migrate to and from Antarctic waters and stranding is not uncommon.

Last week 11 whales were rescued after more than 60 became stranded off another part of the island.

Local residents and experts had worked to help this group of whales, stranded near Sandy Cape in north-west Tasmania, but most had been injured by rocks and reefs.

Whales stranded in Tasmania on 23 November 2008 (Image: Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry and Water)
Another group of whales beached in Tasmania last week

Officials moved one stranded whale that was calling to a group offshore, in a bid to prevent further deaths.

"Unfortunately, that whale died but what happened then was those 30 whales milling around seemed more willing to move on and with a boat in the water we managed to shepherd them out of the bay," Warwick Brennan, a spokesman for the department of primary industries and water, told AAP news agency.

Pilot whales are among the smaller whales, growing to about 5m (16ft) in length.

Scientists are not sure what causes whales to beach.

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