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Gestrandde grienden worden overgebracht

Hamelin Bay, 24 maart 2009 – Terwijl de dode grienden weggehaald worden, start men vandaag met een reddingsactie om de overblijvende 11 dieren over land naar de rustigere Flinders Bay te brengen.

Wildlife officers and volunteers have begun their attempt to return 11 stranded whales to the sea, after a group of more than 80 whales and dolphins beached near Hamelin Bay on Western Australia’s south coast.

More than 70 died on Monday, while a further three perished overnight despite efforts by volunteers to save them on the beach south of Margaret River.

The surviving long-finned pilot whales are being trucked to Flinders Bay on the east side of Cape Leeuwin, 330 kilometres from Perth, where waters are calmer.

“A mum and baby are ready in the water. They’re being held in the water until they’ve all been transported over from Hamelin,” Department of Environment and Conservation liaison officer Laura Sinclair said today.

“They’ve sort of made a small area where … it’s not deep enough for them to be swimming off,” Ms Sinclair said.

“They’re just going back and forth trying to truck the remaining whales at Hamelin to Flinders. We’ve been really happy with how the whales are being transported.

“They’re really calm, they’re not trashing, which was a concern.”

The whales, which are up to six metres long and weigh 3.5 tonnes, are being lifted into slings and trucked individually over the 20-kilometre journey.

Ms Sinclair said it was expected the operation would take all day.

“It is quite a slow process but we do have five trucks,” Ms Sinclair said.

“We’re just working through it and we’re just hoping that by [the middle of the day] we’ll have all of them trucked to Flinders, then it will take all afternoon for the release to move on from there.”

The whales seemed to be quite calm, officers said, despite the traumatic events.

Worked through the night

About 70 Department of Environment and Conservation staff and volunteers worked through the night to stabilise the survivors.

“They’re not in the best state,” Ms Sinclair said earlier of the survivors.

“Flinders Bay is a lot more protected,” she said.

“They stand a better chance of survival and not restranding.”

The overland technique has been used in the past, but not for long-finned pilot whales in Western Australia.

Ms Sinclair said the operation was risky.

“What they are hoping to do when they transport them is congregate all the whales at Flinders Bay before they get them out to the water,” she said.

“That’s the best technique we have to try and ensure maximum survival.

“I guess, if you start putting one or two whales out, you get the distress signals and the whales start coming back in when they hear the whales coming to the beach on the trucks.”

Once in the water at Flinders Bay the plan is to herd the whales out to sea with power-skis when conditions are favourable.

More than 150 people would be involved in the operation which would take all day, Ms Sinclair said.

Vets and students from a nearby high school also assisted in the overnight operation.

Vets, scientists and DEC staff measured the carcasses of the dead whales and dolphins and took DNA samples to allow scientists to assess the genetic information and population structure of the pod.

The dead whales will be taken to a nearby waste disposal area.

bron: Sydney Morning Herald