Almost 150 beached whales die in Australia

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Around 135 short-finned pilot whales died on Friday after a mass stranding in Australia while rescuers worked to send those still alive back out to the sea.

The biggest mass stranding of whales in Western Australia happened in 1996, when 320 long-finned pilot whales beached themselves.

Scores of wildlife rangers and volunteers waded into the waters off Hamelin Bay, five miles north of the coastal city of Augusta, shortly after the pilot whales were spotted by fishermen at dawn.

As of Friday afternoon, only 15 whales were alive, and a rescue operation was under way to try to herd them back to sea.

Parks and Wildlife Service staff are on-site and vets will assess the health of the surviving animals so authorities can return them to deeper water.

The mass beaching likely took place sometime on Wednesday night to early Thursday morning at Hamelin Bay in Western Australia, according to the state's parks and wildlife service.

'Rescue operations will be hampered by deteriorating weather conditions and we need to ensure the safety of everyone involved before we move the whales'.

Authorities have closed down the beaches in the area and issued an alert over the possible presence of sharks, which occasionally attack humans in this part of the country.

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In the case of today's stranding, Chick mentioned that his department had received many offers to help save the whales from the local community.

Volunteers said that some of the whales, once back in the water, turned around and became beached again.

The mammals are believed to be short-finned pilot whales.

Stranded whales on the beach at Hamelin Bay in this picture obtained from social media on March 23.

The rescue crew is also working to remove the deceased whales from the beach.

Nearly all of the mammals - short-finned pilot whales weighing between 1-4 tonnes - have now died, with six survivors helped back out to sea late in the afternoon.

For instance, a series of unusual G. macrorhynchus stranding events coincided with a large-scale military exercise around Taiwan in 2004, the IUCN said.