Saturday, March 28, 2009

Baby whale dies after Australian mass beaching

A baby whale rescued after a mass beaching on Australia's west coast died Thursday after coming back ashore, leaving just three of the mammals alive, authorities said.A group of 11 long-finned pilot whales were lifted onto trucks by cranes fitted with giant slings and driven to a safe harbour for release after they beached at Hamelin Bay, south of Perth city, on Monday.Almost 90 of the whales and bottlenose dolphins came ashore, and most perished before they could be moved.Of the 10 who made it to sea just three were still alive Thursday, with a baby whale becoming the seventh to die after re-beaching."We have had a report of a juvenile whale being washed up on the beach just east of Augusta," said John Carter, of the environment department."That one unfortunately didn't make it," he told AFP.Authorities would continue aerially monitoring beaches in the area to ensure the survivors, who were believed to have made it to deeper water, did not return to shore, Carter said.More than 400 whales have stranded around southern Australia and Tasmania in the past four months, including a mass beaching of almost 200 on King Island.In November, more than 150 pilot whales died after beaching themselves on Tasmania's west coast and in January, 48 sperm whales died on a sandbar at the north of the island.The phenomenon of whale strandings and the causes remain the subject of scientific debate.

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