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How rescuers plan to save hundreds of whales stranded off Tasmania’s west coast

(Image: Tasmania Police)

A rescue operation is under way to save hundreds of pilot whales stranded on Tasmania’s west coast.

About 270 whales became stuck shortly before midday yesterday at Macquarie Harbour, near Strahan.

Most are stuck on a sandbar about 100 to 200 metres from the shore.

About a third of the whales have died in and around the harbour.

Incident controller at the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, Nic Deka, said this morning presents the best change rescuers will have to save the whales.

“This particular fight is at the upper end of complexity,” he told Ross and Russel.

“Our best chance of getting the whales freed from the sandbar is with the outgoing tide.

“We’ve got an outgoing tide starting about now and that will last until late morning.”

The cause of mass whale strandings is unknown, but the Macquarie Harbour area is a beaching hotspot.

Mr Deka said because the whales are on a sandbar, partially submerged, rescuers may have more time to free them.

“They could probably last quite a long time, but if they become fatigued and roll onto their sides, effectively they drown,” he said.

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