Mass Whale Stranding: 200 Whales Die on Coast of Tasmanian Beach

Lacey Abdela '26, Staff Writer


A group of 230 pilot whales was found stranded on the shoreline of Macquarie Harbor, Tasmania–Australia’s west coast–on Wednesday, September 21st. The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service worked to evaluate the situation and rescue as many whales as possible.

Experts are still unsure what caused this mass whale stranding. Possibilities as to why it happened could be due to changes in the environment resulting from climate change or the whales’ echolocation being compromised due to the island’s sudden appearance in their path. 

This isn’t the first time a mass whale stranding has happened on this beach either. In 2020, over 450 pilot whales were found stranded on this exact shoreline, and only about 100 were able to be rescued. Due to the conditions of these mass pilot whale strandings being almost exactly the same, experts are very concerned and will have to examine them further.

Regarding the possibility of the whales’ echolocation being altered, causing the stranding, Wildlife scientist Vanessa Pirotta told BBC, “You’re going from essentially open waters and then there’s land all of a sudden.” Macquarie Harbor is a long, shallow stretch of beach. The location of the island could have caught the whales off guard, and before they could avoid it, they were already trapped in the shallow waters with no escape. Concerning the health of the whales, Tasmania’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment stated on the 21st, “It appears about half of the animals are alive.” More of the whales died later that night.

On September 22nd, rescue teams revealed that just 32 of the 230 whales were able to be saved. Experts were aware some of the whales may re-beach themselves after being released, so it was vital that rescue teams kept watch.  Marine conservation experts are currently doing everything they can to figure out what’s causing these mass strandings that continue to plague the pilot whale population.