Joy turns to sorrow as refloated whales beach again

March 25th, 2009 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, March 25 (DPA) Six of the 10 survivors from a pod of 80 whales that beached themselves near Margaret River on Australia’s west coast earlier this week came ashore again Wednesday.
The long-finned pilot whales were spotted just 6 km up the coast from Flinders Bay, where they were shepherded out to sea by a volunteer army of nature lovers less than 24 hours earlier.

The survivors had been loaded onto trucks at Hamelin Bay, where they initially came ashore Monday, and taken the 20 km to Flinders Bay for release in deeper waters.

“They’ve been found along a stretch of pretty rugged coastline,” Department of Environment and Conservation officer Jason Foster said. “The surveillance plane will be up throughout the day looking for the other four.”

The news is particularly distressing to the Margaret River schoolchildren who were among the 200 volunteers who laboured to keep the whales wet over their time stranded on the beach. Some stayed up all night to help in the rescue efforts.

It’s not known why strandings occur.

Whales are highly socialised animals and seemed wired to come to the aid of one of their number that gets into difficulties in shallow water.

Marine scientists say that if one animal is sick, others flock to it. When distressed, their navigational skills go haywire.

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