Dead dolphins, Bryans Beach: 36 dolphins wash up on Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

The bodies of 34 pilot whales have washed up on the shore of a Tasmanian beach following a mass stranding event.

The mass death was discovered by locals who spotted the bodies of the pilot whale on Bryan’s Beach on the Freycinet Peninsula on Tuesday.

Pilot whales are one of the largest species of oceanic dolphins, only surpassed by orcas.

Tasmania’s Natural Resources and Environment Department confirmed the deaths and said staff were on site to assess the situation on Wednesday.

“Staff, including a wildlife veterinarian, are on site today to assess the situation and sample and measure the carcasses,” a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“It is not known why the whales stranded and is often not possible to determine.”

Photographer and nature guide Chris Theobald visited Bryans Beach on Wednesday morning, sharing photographs on Instagram.

“Confronting scenes today on our Peninsula. An overnight mass stranding of over 30 Pilot whales,” he said alongside three photographs from the scene.

He described the incident as a “mass stranding” and estimated the dolphins “died fairly quickly” which could suggest they were all sick.

“Strong social bonds may lead to a herd following a sick or disorientated pod member into trouble but this particular group with males, females & calves died fairly quickly, suggesting they all could have been sick,” he said.

He suggested “relentless fishing” and “pollution” could all have contributed to the mass deaths.

“There was no time to save any,” he said.

The worst stranding event in Australian history took place in September 2020 when 450 long-finned pilot whales washed up on Macquarie Harbour, on the west coast of Tasmania.

Originally published as More than 30 pilot whales wash-up dead on Tasmanian beach