Joy in Australia as last stranded whale swims free

March 4th, 2009 - 12:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, March 4 (DPA) The last survivor of a pod of 192 pilot whales that came ashore on Tasmania’s King Island at the weekend swam back out to sea Wednesday.
A recalcitrant creature had beached twice in as many days to the dismay of a volunteer army of Australian nature lovers trying to re-float the stricken pod.

The whale was the last of 54 survivors of the mass stranding that returned to the ocean. All are now safely back in deep water.

The adult female was slung between two jet skis and towed out to sea, where delighted rescuers saw it join a group of at least 20 other whales.

Chris Arthur, spokesman for Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service, said the world had witnesses the most successful whale rescue in recorded history.

“It was incredibly pleasing, because of the work that the King Island community have put in,” he said.

It’s the fourth mass whale stranding in Tasmania since November and breaks with a pattern that has seen heart-breaking rates of mortality as mammals returned to the sea have died beaching yet again.

Five bottlenose dolphins that also beached at Naracoopa Sunday were also coaxed or dragged by boat back out to sea.

Opinions differ on why strandings happen. Whales are highly socialised animals and seem wired to come to the aid of one of their number that gets into difficulties in shallow water.

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