The ShadowLands was no fan of the apparent lack of effort when it came to saving a baby whale that found itself in Sydney waters earlier this year.
However, old hands suggest that we need to get real about mass strandings like the latest - a regular occurrence on islands that have perfectly natural whale traps. Says this one:
"By far the commonest cause of mass strandings is navigation error exacerbated by local geographical anomalies and ‘spring’ tides. This is almost certainly why only toothed whales are involved in mass strandings. They follow a food source of squid or fish across a shallow sand bar, known in Tasmania as a ‘whale-trap’, only to have a rapidly ebbing tide strand them in the shallows..."
"Stranded whales which have been on the beach for longer than 4 hours are history... A heavy cetacean ashore, out of its natural habitat, has to overcome a significant specific gravity effect merely to breathe. Add to that physical stress, sand and rubbish in the respiratory passages,and exertional rhabdomyolysis... Re-floating a cast whale and pushing it out into the deep might evince warm fuzzy feelings but rarely is success guaranteed unless both time gap and handling are absolutely minimal...
I reckon I have, in the past, shot more cetaceans than most other vets without a single regret. My .38 calibre revolver, with hard-nosed projectiles was ideal for the job."
UPDATE: Eleven have been returned to the sea with satellite tracking devices. It makes for a feel good Sunday night news story, but if our man is right, they will soon be turning belly up. I am inclined to back his judgment.
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