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150 whales die in rocky stranding in southern Australia

This Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Services handout photo received on December 1, 2008 shows the scene of a mass whale stranding near Sandy Cape on the remote west coast of Australia's Tasmania state. The long-finned pilot whales were discovered trapped on November 29 with more than 150 whales having since died after beaching themselves and sustaining deep cuts after thrashing onto rocks. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Dec 1, 2008
More than 150 whales have died after beaching themselves in southern Australia, with many sustaining deep cuts after thrashing onto rocks, an official said Monday.

The long-finned pilot whales were discovered trapped on a rocky beach in the remote west coast of Tasmania state on Saturday but early aerial reports suggested that only 72 had died.

Subsequent investigations revealed that many more of the giant animals had perished, Warwick Brennan from the state's Department of Primary Industries and Water said.

"155 are dead," Brennan told AFP, adding that 32 more animals had been successfully shepherded offshore and had a good chance of survival.

Brennan said many of the whales had been badly injured after thrashing heavily on the rocky shore of Sandy Cape.

The beaching follows the deaths of more than 50 pilot whales, deep water animals which can reach more than seven metres (20 feet) in length and weigh up to three tonnes, after they became stranded on a nearby beach the previous weekend.

Brennan said Australia's southern island of Tasmania often experienced whale beachings, a phenomenon so far unexplained by science.

"We get a bit nervous when they come into shore," he said.

Since 1900 there have been 75 whale strandings recorded in Tasmania, which accounts for 80 percent of such events in Australia, with several involving more than 200 animals, Brennan said.

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NZealand air force to monitor Japanese whalers: defence minister
Wellington (AFP) Nov 30, 2008
The New Zealand air force is to track the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctic waters this season, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp announced Sunday.

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