Whale of a rescue: Almost 200 whales beach on Tasmania
48 animals returned to sea
Rescuers are scrambling in an attempt to rescue almost 200 whales that beached on Australia's island state of Tasmania.
About 194 pilot whales and dozens of bottlenose dolphins became stranded on Naracoopa Beach on Tasmania's King Island on Sunday night, according to officials.
About 54 whales and seven dolphins were believed to still be alive by Monday morning, Chris Arthur, an official with Tasmania's Park and Wildlife Service, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"It's amazing, some will die straight away, some will survive for days," Arthur said. "These are fairly robust animals, pilot whales, we experienced that in the past. While they're alive there is a chance."
Rescuers, including more than 100 King Island residents, were trying to keep the animals wet and cool with soaked blankets.
By late Monday, about 48 animals had been returned to the sea, according to officials.
Wildlife officials and volunteers used backhoes to dig trenches to bring water close to the whales and then used small boats and jet skis to pull the mammals back out to sea. The surviving dolphins were lugged back to the water in stretchers.
It is the fourth beaching incident in Tasmania over recent months. Whales go by Tasmania during their migration to and from Antarctic waters.
Officials said they are hoping that the rescued animals stay in the water. Arthur said that several other whales have been spotted just offshore and there are concerns that the number of beached mammals may increase.
With files from the Associated Press