Dozens of pilot whales feared stranded in Tasmania's Macquarie Harbour

·1-min read
<span>Photograph: Tasmania Police</span>
Photograph: Tasmania Police

Scientists and whale rescue crews are rushing to Tasmania’s remote west coast after reports a pod of about 70 whales has become stranded in Macquarie Harbour.

The whales were believed to be stuck on a sandbar inside Macquarie Heads, near the harbour mouth, a spokeswoman for the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment said.

They were thought to be pilot whales, but that was yet to confirmed.

Local department staff and police were at the site and marine conservation experts and rescue crews were expected to arrive later on Monday. The spokeswoman said they would assess the stranding and the resources required.

“If it is determined there is a need for help from the general public a request will be made through various avenues,” she said.

Related: Humpback whales make 'wrong turn' into crocodile-infested river in Australia's Kakadu national park

Meanwhile, in a more positive development, a humpback whale that took a wrong turn into a crocodile-infested Northern Territory river has swum free after more than two weeks in the murky waterway.

It’s the first time a humpback has been spotted in Kakadu national park’s remote East Alligator River, with reports placing it 30km inland.

Kakadu national park manager and zoologist Feach Moyle said the whale managed to navigate its way out of the maze of shallow channels back into Van Diemen Gulf over the weekend.

“It made its way out on the high tides and we’re pleased it appeared to be in good condition and not suffering any ill effects,” he said in a statement on Monday.

Experts weren’t sure why the humpback swam up the muddy tidal river and didn’t migrate south to Antarctica for its annual feed.

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