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Fight to save stranded whales

RESCUERS trying to keep seven stranded sperm whales alive said yesterday they were having difficulty navigating numerous sandbars but hoped to move the animals out to sea at the next high tide.

A team of six wildlife rangers continued to pour water on the parched skin of the whales, the only ones left alive from a pod of 45 whales that beached on Thursday on a remote sand bank off Australia's southern coast. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Liz Wren said the many sandbars off the beach had hindered efforts to move the whales back to sea.

She said rescuers would attempt to save the remaining whales at high tide this morning, depending on weather.

"This will be one of the most challenging rescues ever attempted. They are packed pretty tightly together. This will be as difficult as they get," Wren said.

Wildlife officials said the whales had beached on Thursday about 150 meters off Perkins Island on the northwest of Tasmania and all but seven had died by the time they were spotted. Six wildlife rangers reached the survivors early yesterday to keep their skin wet.


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