Almost a week after the worst mass stranding on record in Australia, rescuers on Tasmania’s rugged west coast have guided another pilot whale to freedom.
The mammal was set free from Macquarie Harbour on Sunday, bringing the total number of saved whales to 110.
Crews are swiftly working to dispose of some 360 carcasses at sea after the pod of 470 got into trouble early last week.
They will also look for remaining survivors and haven’t ruled out finding more whales alive.
Whale rescuers have saved another pilot whale from Macquarie Harbour (pictured) in Tasmania after the mass stranding
A group of rescuers in the water work to save a whale after it was stranded on a sand bar in Macquarie Harbour on Thursday
‘We think there may be a few still popping around that we’ve missed that aren’t fully beached but are in distress,’ incident controller Robert Buck told AAP.
About 200 carcasses were towed by several boats out of the harbour on Sunday, with authorities hopeful of removing the remainder before Wednesday when bad weather sets in.
‘Working on the west coast is extremely weather dependent, we’ve got the wildest ocean in the world at our front door. We’ve got to work within those constrains,’ Mr Buck said.
CSIRO modelling has been used to determine the best spot to dump the whales, a 5-10 nautical mile stretch west of Cape Sorell.
Rescue authorities have now saved 110 whales after 470 got into trouble in the worst ever stranding in Australian history
Rescuers use a tarp to transport a pilot whale off a sand bar after the mass stranding on Tasmania’s west coast on Thursday
Mr Buck warned some carcasses may drift back to beaches in the area.
He said there had been one shark sighting during the protracted rescue, but no unusual activity.
Some 270 long-finned pilot whales were discovered stranded on sandbars on Monday morning and another 200 were found dead further inside the harbour two days later.
The stranding surpasses a beaching event in 1996 involving about 320 pilot whales in Western Australia.
Mr Buck praised rescuers for their tireless work in icy waters and rough weather.
Rescue groups and authorities hope to have disposed of the remaining 360 carcasses before poor weather on Wednesday