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Sunday Newz: Australians try to save eleven stranded whales

HOBART, Australia – Rescuers moved 11 pilot whales more than 11 kilometres to a deep-water beach in the hope they would return to sea after the mammals became stranded in southeastern Australia.

Wildlife officials said Sunday that the 11 are the last of a pod of 64 whales found stranded on Anthony’s Beach in the island state of Tasmania early Saturday. The pod is maternal, meaning it consists only of females and calves.

pilot-whale-rescue

In this photo released by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry and Water via AAPImage, rescue workers attend to a pilot whale stranded on Anthony's Beach near Stanley, Tasmania, Australia, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008. Rescuers returned 11 pilot whales to sea Sunday, a day after a pod of 64 mothers and calves were found stranded on a beach in southeastern Australia, wildlife officials . (AP Photo/Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry and Water via AAPImage, Rachael Alderman, HO) (Rachael Alderman - AP)

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Services manager Chris Arthur said the whales were hoisted in slings into specially equipped trucks then driven to Godfrey’s beach, where volunteers dragged the slings into the water.

Arthur says the animals will be stabilized, held in deeper water, exercised, and hopefully on the high tide be returned to open water.

Rescuers hope the whales will rejoin another migratory pod once they swim back into the Bass Strait, which separates the island of Tasmania from southern Australia.

Most of the pod were already dead when they were discovered Saturday, and one died overnight Saturday despite volunteers spending the night pouring water over the animal to keep it from overheating.

Strandings are not uncommon in Tasmania, where the whales pass by on their migration to and from Antarctic waters. It is not known why whales get stranded.

Pilot whales are members of the dolphin family but are considered to behave more like whales.

However, because of their social nature and the fact they travel together in large groups, mass strandings can occur.

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