Sixteen killer whales stranded on a remote beach on the south coast of western Australia were killed Sunday after veterinarians decided that they would not survive a rescue attempt.
The whales were spotted off the coast Sunday morning, the day after volunteers saved 32 whales that had been beached nearby. After a two-day operation involving hundreds of volunteers, the 32 whales were returned to the water Saturday evening.
A helicopter sent early Sunday to check that they had not stranded themselves again spotted the second group beached high on a stretch of coast inaccessible to vehicles. Wildlife officers believe both groups may have been part of a much larger group forced by heavy storms last week to shallow water, where their navigational systems may have become confused.
Officials said the 16 were in “pitiful condition,” severely dehydrated and bruised, with liver and extensive tissue damage, unable to survive a rescue attempt.