Nearly 200 pilot whales and a handful of bottlenose dolphins have beached at Naracoopa on the eastern side of King Island in Bass Strait.
By Monday afternoon only 54 of the 194 pilot whales were still alive, along with seven dolphins.
According to ABC News:
Chris Arthur from the Parks and Wildlife Service says he remains optimistic about their chances.
“It’s amazing, some will some die straight away, some will survive for days.”
“These are fairly robust animals, pilot whales, we experienced that in the past.
“While they’re alive there is a chance,” he said.
Mr Arthur says there is concern for whales close to shore.
“There’s quite a large number of animals still out at sea just off shore milling around.”
More than 150 King Island residents have been assisting with the rescue and have now been joined by Parks and Wildlife staff who flew in late this morning to take charge.
Nigel Burgess is one of the residents involved in trying to refloat the surviving 54 whales.
He has told ABC Local Radio they are on a flat section of the beach.
“It’s a matter of getting them into the water. It’s so shallow, getting them out,” he said.
King Island Council general manager Andrew Wardlaw says it is a community effort.
“Families, children, mums and dads, grandparents all here helping out doing their bit under the guidance of a local parks ranger,” he said.
While conditions were calm for rescuers this morning the Bureau of Meteorology says north-easterly winds of up to 30 knots are expected later in the day.
It is the fourth mass stranding in Tasmania’s north-west since November.