MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard on Wednesday lauded local fisher folk for helping out in the efforts that led to the immediate and safe return of some 100 melon-headed whales stranded off the coast of Romblon on Tuesday

The latest stranding happened on the heels of an earlier similar incident in Bataan where some 300 melon-headed whales suddenly emerged off the shore off Pilar and Orion towns. Local fishermen and authorities waded into the water and successfully drove the whales away, but not after three whales had died.

Over the weekend, around 200 pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins also found their way off the shorelines of the Narcoopa Beach on King Island, a part of Tasmania. Only around 60 of them were safely ushered back to the sea.

SYDNEY – Rescuers used jet skis, backhoes and human muscle to save dozens of whales and dolphins stranded on a beach in southern Australia on Monday, officials and news reports said.

The 194 pilot whales and half a dozen bottlenose dolphins became stranded on Naracoopa Beach on Tasmania state's King Island on Sunday evening — the fourth beaching incident in recent months in Tasmania.

Strandings happen periodically in Tasmania as whales pass by during their migration to and from Antarctic waters, but scientists do not know why it happens. It is unusual, however, for whales and dolphins to get stranded together.

Chris Arthur, of Tasmania's Parks and Wildlife Service, said 54 whales and seven dolphins were still alive when the rescue effort began. By late Monday, 48 animals had been returned to the sea by officials and more than 100 King Island residents who had volunteered to help.

Backhoes dug trenches in the sand that allowed water to get close to the whales, as volunteers doused them with water and draped wet fabric over them to keep them cool.

It was not clear why the animals had beached on the island, halfway between Tasmania and mainland Australia. The Examiner, a Tasmanian newspaper, reported that the animals were caught by a very low tide.

In January, 45 sperm whales died after becoming stranded on a remote Tasmanian sandbar, even though rescuers worked for days to keep them cool and wet as they tried to move them back to the open water.

Last November, 150 long-finned pilot whales died after beaching on a rocky coastline in Tasmania. A week earlier, rescuers saved 11 pilot whales among a pod of 60 that had beached on the island state.

The series of whale stranding has already prompted the International World Ocean Conference to take up the matter when its members convene, the report added.

Perplexed experts have yet to ascertain the actual cause of the unusual behavior of the whales, with some attributing it to a seismic movement beneath the ocean while others saying such whales tend to stay close together at all times.


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