An apparent mass suicide of sixty whales on Australian beach has mystified conservationists and zoologists.
GV: People standing around whales on small beach at Treachery Head
GV TILT UP: Dead whales lying on the beach
SV: People trying to push whale back out to sea
CU: Scars on the side of a whale
GV AND CUs: Whales lying on the beach (3 shots)
GV: People watching dying whales on beach
SV: Man who has been studying whales, John Haughey, speaking in English
SV AND GV: Whales lying in shallow as Haughey continues speaking. (2 shots)
GV: People pulling whale out to sea
SV: Haughey speaking in English
GV AND SV: People crouching near dying whales. (2 shots)
HILL: "The whale suicide began on Sunday night when about fifty of them launched themselves at Treachery Head, a small beach near Seal Rocks. Once ashore they simply lay in the sand and waited to die. Today , two days after that lemming-like rush, only a few are still breathing. People along the beach tried everything to get the whales, some of them over six metres long and weighing several hundred kilos, back into the water. As soon as the whales were released hey headed back into shore, some of them cutting themselves to pieces on rocks on the way in. Very shortly all these whales will be dead, already on some of them the skin in blistering. One man who's been studying humpback whales for the National Parks and Wildlife Service, John Haughey, was on hand when the pilot whales beached. Now, he says, there's nothing that can be done.
HAUGHEY: "Since Sunday night they've experienced a full day in the sun and the wind, quite a cold night in the wind, and half a day now. I don't think there's...I think there's very little chance for them now."
HILL: "It's pretty sad though, isn't it, to see beautiful creatures like this?"
HAUGHEY: "It is. It's ...it's, you'd be less than human if you didn't feel something for the animals when they're basically why people feel thus urge to help them. They respect them for it. They've got to do that."
HILL: "But there's nothing they can do?"
HAUGHEY: "There's really nothing they can do now."
HILL: "When all the whales are dead they'll be buried by bulldozers but for some people the sights on the beach today were just too much."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: An apparent mass suicide of sixty whales on Australian beach has mystified conservationists and zoologists. The pilot whale became beached in Northern New South Wales and resisted attempts to return them to the ocean. This report from ATN 7's Tony Hill.