In Western Australia, wildlife officials faced a heartbreaking decision to euthanize a group of nearly 100 long-finned pilot whales after their rescue efforts to refloat them failed. The whales had become stranded on Cheynes Beach in the southern part of the Australian state. Despite a dedicated team of over 250 volunteers, veterinarians, and marine experts, at least 51 of the whales had already perished. The remaining 45 whales later stranded themselves again, leading experts to choose euthanasia as the most humane option to prevent further suffering.

For Peter Hartley, a wildlife management expert with 34 years of experience, this decision was one of the most difficult in his career. The team had tried tirelessly to guide the whales back to the ocean, but the cold winter waters of Australia made it challenging. Wildlife researcher Vanessa Pirotta explained that the reason for the stranding remains unknown, but the whales displayed unusual behavior, huddling together before beaching. This could have been an attempt to avoid predators or may have been caused by a disoriented member of the pod.Pilot whale strandings are not uncommon worldwide, especially among toothed whales that rely on sonar for navigation. Last year in Tasmania, around 200 pilot whales were beached, with only 35 surviving after being refloated. In 2020, Tasmania witnessed its largest stranding when over 450 pilot whales were found. Similarly, earlier In July, more than 50 pilot whales died after a mass stranding on a Scottish island in northwestern Scotland.