Pod of 70 whales stranded on a sandbar off Tasmanian coast

Marine conservation experts are being sent to Tasmania’s West Coast, where about 70 whales are stranded.

The mammals, believed to be pilot whales, are feared to be on a sandbar inside Macquarie Heads.

About 70 whales are stuck on a standbar in Tasmania. Credit:Tasmania Police

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment staff and Tasmania Police are on site and are managing the incident, a statement from the department said.

Additional crews with whale rescue gear will arrive later on Monday.

Marine biologist and science communicator Vanessa Pirotta said pilot whales are social creatures and are commonly found along Tasmania's West Coast.

She said that, while beaching and being stranded are a mystery to scientists, several factors could have led to the incident. These include an error in whale navigation or something startling them.

Dr Pirotta said those on site had a challenging day ahead of them as they would need to assess how many whales there were, how many could be moved over a short period of time, tide movements and many other aspects to get the whales off the beach.

"It’s a massive effort with any stranding, but 70 animals is a big task," she said.

"Marine animals have never felt their own weight before. They can die from overheating or die from the weight of their body resting on the sand."

More to come

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