More than 160 pilot whales have stranded on a beach on Australia’s west coast. According to the Biodiversity and Conservation Authority (DBCA), the marine mammals were in distress in shallow waters on Thursday near the small town of Dunsborough, 250 kilometers south of Perth. Almost 30 animals died. The Authority for Biodiversity and Nature Conservation (DBCA) announced on Thursday afternoon (local time) that 100 marine mammals were now back in deeper waters. Helpers in boats tried to stop them from swimming towards shore again. “We have ships and a sighting aircraft in action that track where the animals are every few hours,” said a DBCA spokeswoman. “So far so good.” Numerous animal rights activists and residents had rushed to the beach since morning to help rescue the animals and shower them with water.

Emergency services also used boats to try to prevent another group of around 20 pilot whales (also called pilot whales) from also becoming stranded. A little further from the coast there is also another pod of around 110 whales in deeper water.

Numerous animal rights activists and residents rushed to the beach to help rescue the animals and shower them with water, media reported. However, the authorities asked the population to only approach the whales under the guidance of experts.

“We know people want to help, but we have asked them not to attempt to rescue the animals without direction from DBCA staff as this could cause further injury and stress to the animals and hinder a coordinated rescue operation,” the authorities wrote. In the case of mass strandings of whales, human safety is always the top priority.

“There are many theories around the world, but no one has really been able to find a cause for the mass whale strandings,” marine expert Ian Wiese, who was at the scene, told ABC Perth radio.

In 1996, there was a mass stranding of 320 pilot whales in the same region. At that time almost all animals were saved. In 2018, 100 ocean giants died after a mass stranding in Hamelin Bay, Western Australia. Last year, nearly 100 pilot whales were stranded on Cheynes Beach, east of the city of Albany. None of the animals survived. According to experts, pilot whales form extremely close bonds with each other. At certain times of the year they travel in large groups, increasing the risk of mass strandings.

Note: This article has been updated following the release of most of the pilot whales.