23 Nov 2008

Stranded whales released at sea

8:38 pm on 23 November 2008

Eleven pilot whales that survived a mass stranding in the Australian state of Tasmania, that killed 53, have been returned to the ocean.

The rescue effort at the stranding site, near Stanley on Tasmania's north-west coast, involved 60 volunteers and 15 government officers.

A Parks and Wildlife official, Chris Arthur, says the whales were transported 17 kilometres on specially equipped trucks to another beach and successfully returned to the sea.

One whale died enroute.

He says the surviving whales were from a maternal pod of mothers and calves.

Mr Arthur says satellite tracking devices were placed on some whales and a plane will check their progress on Monday.

Mass strandings of whales occur periodically in Australia and New Zealand for reasons that are not entirely understood.