Hundreds of whales are stranded in a remote sandbar off the coast of the Australian island Tasmania.
Officials with a government marine conservation team told reporters that at least 25 whales have died and another 250 are stuck on a sandbar located in Macquarie Harbor, both CBS News and The Guardian reported. They are believed to be pilot whales, though authorities have yet to confirm the species.
"They are in water. It’s very difficult to see how many might be deceased or what condition they’re in," said Nic Deka, an incident official with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water, and Environment.
Deka said that authorities hope to launch a rescue mission Tuesday morning when they expect to see an outgoing tide.
TASMANIA POLICE HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Stranded whales at Macquarie Harbor, Tasmania, Australia
"In terms of the tides, when we start making an effort tomorrow it will be with an outgoing tide, so that'll be in our favor, but obviously tides go up and come down so we'll be aiming to make the most of the windows that we have," Deka said.
According to reports, mass whale strandings like this one are relatively common in Tasmania, as the mammals pass it on their journey to and from Antarctica.
Police are urging people to stay away from the area, for now, to keep it clear for rescuers.
BRODIE WEEDING/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Stranded whales at Macquarie Harbor, Tasmania, Australia
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The mass stranding comes as a humpback whale that got stuck in a river at Australia's at Kakadu National Park early last week finally returned to the ocean.
The whale was making its way to Antarctica when it took a wrong turn into the crocodile-infested waters.
Feach Moyle, a manager and zoologist at Kakadu, told The Guardian that the mammal had managed to swim out of the shallow waters into the Van Diemen Gulf over the weekend.
"It made its way out on the high tides and we’re pleased it appeared to be in good condition and not suffering any ill effects," he said Monday.