A pod of pilot whales that became stranded on the rocks in Bunbury harbour in Western Australia have died before they could be rescued, local media reported.
The pod of 20 long-finned pilot whales was spotted on Monday (March 23) morning, starting a rescue effort involving volunteers and Department of Parks and Wildlife staff lasting several hours, reports said.
“Often in these events and these incidents it takes a while to gear up and get people here, being right here in the heart of Bunbury it was very convenient to have people basically on the spot,” Kim Williams, Nature Conservation Leader with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Four whales were pulled or floated out into deeper water and three were seen swimming away slowly, local media said.
The carcasses of twelve whales were pulled up onto the beach for disposal, reports said.
A spotter plane searching for the animals was unable to find them on Tuesday (March 24) morning, media reported.
It is not yet known what contributed to the beaching, but vets and scientists have taken samples from the dead animals for testing, the ABC said.