“That’s unfortunate but that’s also one of the consequences of these types of events,” Clark told reporters.
He said the priority was to try and refloat the three surviving whales that had remained stuck throughout the incident on a remote part of the beach as well as any of the whales that stranded themselves again.
After that would come the process of removing and disposing of the carcasses, he said. That would involve bringing them together at a central point on the beach.
“That way they can be basically longlined or tied together, ready for disposal at sea,” Clark said.
The whales will likely be towed into deep waters far from the coast so they don’t wash up on the shore.
Rescuers were hopeful they could reach the three remote stranded whales late Friday but faced difficulties due to the location and tidal conditions, Clark said. More than 50 government staff and volunteers have been involved in the rescue efforts.
The creatures were found two years after the largest whale mass-stranding in Australia's history was discovered in the same harbor.
About 470 long-finned pilot whales were found in 2020 stuck on sandbars. After a weeklong effort, 111 of those whales were rescued but the rest died.
The entrance to the harbor is a notoriously shallow and dangerous channel known as Hell’s Gate.