Almost 500 pilot whales stranded on Australia's coast, 380 have died

380 Whales Dead in One of Australia’s Largest Ever Strandings

Another mass standing at Farewell Spit in New

Since Monday, an estimated 470 pilot whales have been discovered stranded on Tasmania's west coast.

The largest mass stranding in modern recorded history was 1,000 whales on the shores of the Chatham Islands, a New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean in 1918.

"As time goes on they do become more tired so their chances of survival reduces", Mr Deka said of the long-finned pilot whales.

"We are going to basically take the animals with the best chance to start with and the ones that we (are) able to deal with".

Rescuers are trying to save scores of whales beached in the Australian state of Tasmania.

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In this September 22, 2020, file photo, members of a rescue crew stand with a whale on a sand bar near Strahan, Australia.

Tasmania is the only portion of Australia likely to mass strandings, even though they sometimes occur on the Australian mainland.

"It's certainly a major event and of great concern when we potentially lose that many whales out of a stranding event", said Peter Harrison, a professor at the Southern Cross University Whale Research Group.

They were found between seven and 10 kilometres (four-six miles) from the first group, with the distance and tannin-stained waters meaning rescuers did not spot them sooner.

The whales largely washed up on sand spits in the waters around an area called Macquarie Heads.

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"If they are still alive and in water, there is certainly hope for them, but as time goes on they get more tired and their chances of survival reduces", Parks and Wildlife Tasmania regional manager Nic Deka said.

"We have shown fairly conclusively that animals will regroup, they will reform those social bonds, and they will - at least in the short- to medium-term for the duration that they've been tracked - demonstrate normal and natural behaviour", Carlyon said. Marine biologists had been racing to save as many as they could earlier this week.

The latest incident is the first involving more than 50 whales in Tasmania since 2009.

Tasmania's previous biggest stranding was in 1935, when 294 long-finned pilot whales were stranded in the northwest town of Stanley, according to the wildlife department.

Numerous recorded mass strandings include long-finned or short-finned pilot whales - a species of oceanic dolphin that grows seven metres long and can weigh up to three tonnes. In 2011, about 20 sperm whales were beached there, and most died.

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However, some researchers have suggested the highly sociable pilot whales may have gone off track after feeding close to the shoreline or by following one or two whales that strayed. "So, some animals may be simply too big or in an unsuitable location to actually deal with", Carlyon said. "It's sort of inside an actual harbour so we've got several boats and hundreds of people on the ground preparing the whales in slings", Tom Mountney, a fisherman helping with the rescue operation, told BBC World Service radio. "We are still very hopeful", Carlyon said.

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