Horror at mass whale stranding
A SHARK warning has been issued for Hamelin Bay in Western Australia after dozens of pilot whale carcasses were washed up ashore.
More than 150 whales washed up on the WA beach early this morning. Most of the animals have died after beaching themselves but some remain alive.
The carcasses were reported by a commercial fisherman at 6am Friday, lying approximately 1km north of the Hamelin Bay boat ramp near the town of Augusta.
According to the Department of Fisheries, some of the whales are still alive but most of them are dead on the shore.
Authorities have warned that the animals' bodies will act as an attractant, which could lead to sharks coming close in to shore.
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 strength of the animals and the windy and possibly wet weather conditions will affect when and where we attempt to move them out to sea," incident controller Jeremy Chick told AAP.
"The main objectives are to ensure the safety of staff and volunteers, as well as (ensuring) the whales' greatest chance of survival."
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has issued a shark advice and warn people to avoid the area.
"It is possible the dead and dying animals will act as an attractant, which could lead to sharks coming close into shore along this stretch of coast," the department warns.
"While it's not uncommon for sharks to be present off the WA coast throughout the year, people should exercise additional caution until the stranding incident is resolved."
Biodiversity Conservation officers were also being sent to the scene to assess the situation.
Any shark sightings should be reported to Water Police on 08 9442 8600.
It comes exactly nine years after more than 80 long-finned pilot whales beached themselves in the same area.