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Rescued pilot whales' disappearance at sea off West Australia viewed as positive sign

March 24, 2009 | 10:40 am


Marine mammal experts and volunteers remain hopeful that 10 pilot whales who survived a mass stranding Monday in southwestern Australia are still at sea and not attempting to beach themselves anew.

At least 72 whales perished during the mysterious stranding south of Perth, which lured more than 250 volunteers to assist marine mammal specialists in an effort to rescue whales that were still alive.

A story in the West Australian reports that experts trucked 11 whales from the stranding site at Hamelin Bay and delivered them via cranes into deeper waters of a neighboring bay. But one struggled to breathe so they brought it back ashore, fearing it'd lure the others if it attempted to beach itself.

That female adult whale, which was barely breathing, was euthanized before nightfall. Today, which is Wednesday in Australia, experts will perform a fly-over in search of the diminished pod. 

Here's hoping that if they locate the whales, including a calf nicknamed Buddy, they locate them together and far from the coast.

--Pete Thomas


Photos of rescue and cleanup effort by Getty Images (top) and Associated Press