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60 Giant Mammals Go Ashore in Australia : Rescuers Battle to Save Beached Whales

Associated Press

Hundreds of volunteers worked frantically today to save dozens of beached whales after 60 of the huge mammals swam ashore north of Sydney. Many of the whales were cut up on rocks and about 30 died.

Schoolchildren poured water over the two-ton Tasmanian whales as they lay on the shore, trying to keep them alive until they could be returned to the sea. Wildlife experts performed autopsies in an attempt to find out why the whales beached themselves.

Michael Duffy of the National Parks and Wildlife Service said the mammals mysteriously stopped beaching today, one day after they began throwing themselves ashore at Crowdy Heads Beach, 217 miles north of Sydney.

Workers loaded the surviving whales, weakened by hours of thrashing in the surf and on rocks, onto trucks and transported them to a nearby harbor that was ringed with nets so the whales would not escape and return to the site of the beachings.

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Duffy recalled a similar beaching in Florida in 1976.

“They discovered that one whale was injured so other whales came to its rescue,” he said. “When it died three days later they all left. Perhaps something like that happened here.”

For much of Monday other whales swam in circles near the shore in what rangers took to be a response to distress calls of the beached whales.


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