24 whales dead in mass stranding on remote Victorian coast

At least 24 whales have died after a mass stranding on a remote beach south of Mallacoota.

Assessors from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria are on site at a remote section of coast in the Croajingolong National Park, where it’s understood 27 pilot whales and one humpback whale were found beached.

The whales were initially spotted by a private aircraft around 4pm on Tuesday, November 27, scattered along a 1.5km stretch of beach which is only accessible on foot. 

An incident management team arrived to conduct thorough assessments, but found 24 of the whales including the humpback were already dead. 

“We had flown in experienced staff including a wildlife expert by helicopter to conduct an initial assessment late in the afternoon and they found that unfortunately most of the whales had died, with the few remaining not expected to survive,” incident controller Michael Turner said.

As of Wednesday, the team had engaged in a search to assess the conditions of three remaining pilot whales.

“By the end of the day if there are no survivors that we can re-float then we will move on to how we manage the carcasses from that area,” Mr Turner said. 

Mr Turner said the whale carcasses are in a remote wilderness area and are most likely to be dealt with naturally.

“It is a remote area and not easily accessible – the most popular method of dealing with the carcasses would be a natural process, so with tidal influence and things like that,” Mr Turner said.

Throughout Mr Turner’s 32 years working in the department, he said he had never witnessed a mass whale stranding.

“I am not an expert, although I have been told the last noted mass whale stranding event like this was in 1983. Not in the same spot but in the general vicinity,” he said. 

Mr Turner said warnings and signage will be in place to keep the community informed as more information comes to hand and that people should steer clear of the area for safety reasons.

In March this year, 150 pilot whales beached themselves at Hamelin Bay, Perth. Photo: Leaarne Hollowood.

In March this year, 150 pilot whales beached themselves at Hamelin Bay, Perth. Photo: Leaarne Hollowood.