14 dead sperm whales washed ashore near Tasmania

More than a dozen dead sperm whales have washed ashore north of Tasmania. The marine mammals are young males who are believed to have all belonged to the same bachelor group, Australian media quoted the Tasmanian Agency for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection today as saying.

Reuters/Sarah Baldock

The 14 carcasses were discovered yesterday on King Island, an island between Tasmania and mainland Australia. Marine biologists and veterinarians were on their way to the site to investigate the circumstances of the death.

Sperm whales endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature

Sperm whales are not uncommon in the area, officials said. It should now be checked from the air whether there are any other animals in the region. Sperm whales are listed as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Onlookers were asked to keep their distance. Surfers and swimmers have also been warned that whale carcasses could attract sharks. How long the dead whales have been lying on the coast was unclear. However, an eyewitness told ABC that the animals were already giving off a strong odor.

Two years ago, hundreds of whales were stranded on the west coast of Tasmania, many perished. At that time, around 470 pilot whales had strayed into the shallow and remote Macquarie Bay in the west of the island. It was the largest known mass stranding in Australian history. Only 111 animals could be saved during a complex rescue operation.

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