Hundreds of whales stranded in Australia

Big challenge:Whales lie stranded on a sand bar near Strahan, Australia, on Monday.APBrodie Weeding  

At least twenty-five whales have died and scientists are trying to rescue 250 more that are stranded in a remote bay on the Australian island of Tasmania, officials said on Monday.

Tasmania’s environment department said the whales had become stuck on a sandbar in Macquarie Harbour, on the island’s rugged and sparsely populated west coast.

Nic Deka, who is managing the incident response, said two large pods were stranded on sandbars a few hundred metres apart inside the harbour. “They are in water but it’s very difficult to see how many of those whales are deceased or what condition they’re in,” he told reporters in the nearby town of Strahan.

They are believed to be pilot whales but officials are yet to confirm the species.

Mass whale strandings occur often in Tasmania, but the large numbers involved present a daunting rescue prospect.