October 26, 2005

Boneyard toll increases

The Boneyard’s toll climbed again when a third pod of 130 pilot whales, a species of dolphin, became stranded on a remote beach late yeserday.

Two groups of long finned pilot whales beached themselves near Marion Bay on the southern island state of Tasmania, according to Liz Wren, a spokeswoman for the state’s parks and wildlife service.

A fisherman first reported seeing the whales swimming ashore early Tuesday, but Wren said it took wildlife officials several hours to reach the site, which is accessible only by boat.

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Nearly 60 whales died and about 10 had been rescued with the help of scores of volunteers and wildlife officials by nightfall Tuesday.

But a third pod began beaching at dusk. For safety reasons, the rescue effort did not resume until this morning, Wren said, when rescuers found about 70 of the latest arrivals dead and 14 still alive. Volunteers battled onshore winds and rough surf to return eight survivors to the sea by late morning. Another eight died.

Wren said exact numbers of deaths and survivors were not available because the beachings were spread over more than two kilometres of beach.

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