Eleven beached whales refloated in Australia (Lead)

March 24th, 2009 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, March 24 (DPA) The 11 survivors from a pod of 80 whales that beached themselves near Margaret River on Australia’s west coast were pushed back out to sea Tuesday.
The long-finned pilot whales were loaded onto trucks at Hamelin Bay where they came ashore Monday for their release at a better spot 20 km away.

Flinders Bay was picked because it’s deep, sheltered and far enough from the original stranding site to deter the whales from coming back on shore.

“There’s a juvenile in the middle of the pack as well, which is good,” Department of Environment and Conservation officer Laura Sinclair said. “It’s looking more positive. They’re not meandering back to the coast.”

Margaret River schoolchildren were among the 200 volunteers keeping the whales wet so they didn’t dehydrate and die. Some stayed up all night to help in the rescue effort.

Individual whales measuring up to 6 metres long and weighing up to 3.5 tonnes were hoisted in a sling onto a truck for the trip from Hamelin to Flinders. They were penned until the pod was back together and then released together.

Sinclair told Australia’s AAP news agency of concern that two of the whales were in poor condition. If veterinarians decide they are too weak and are in distress, they will be shot.

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