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Two whales leave Macquarie Harbour


Rescuers have managed to herd two members of a pod of eight sperm whales trapped in Macquarie Harbour back to open water.

The rescue team has today been working to group the whales - all males - before guiding them towards the harbour entrance.

"We're pleased these two have taken the initiative and we're now encouraging the others to do same," said Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) senior ranger Chris Arthur.

Mr Arthur said it was hoped the whales in open water would attract the remaining members of the pod out through the narrow harbour entrance.

"If we can't achieve this by early this evening, we will keep the whales together near the entrance and try again tomorrow."

The progress of the two whales now in open water will be monitored to prevent them being trapped again.

Three whales stranded in surf at Braddon Point overnight have died. Autopsies have been conducted on these mammals and a fourth deceased whale near Swan Basin.

Observers using a light aircraft this morning spotted two additional whales inside the harbour - bringing the number of survivors to eight.

The rescue team has been using six boats to move the mammals.

"The good news is the predicted weather change means calm conditions with water now flowing out of the harbour, which helps us immensely," Mr Arthur said.

The PWS has asked the public not to approach the deceased whales and has reminded skippers of vessels navigating the entrance to Macquarie Harbour to exercise caution.

PWS officers from the Department of Tourism, Arts and the Environment are working with Wildlife and marine officers from the Department Primary Industries in the operation.

Another sperm whale has also been discovered today, beached at Freycinet on Tasmania's East Coast. The 12 metre whale was dead when discovered.

Two whales leave Macquarie Harbour

Dept. of Primary Industries marine officer Drew Lee and PWS senior ranger Chris Arthur track the whales' locations

Two whales leave Macquarie Harbour

PWS senior ranger Chris Arthur being interviewed by the news media at Macquarie Heads

Two whales leave Macquarie Harbour

Marine officer Drew Lee observes the whales from a spotter aircraft