Reuters is reporting that up to 300 whales are stranded on a sandbar off the remote west coast of the Australian island of Tasmania.
Marine biologists are planning a rescue operation but government scientists say it appears that at least 25 of the animals, believed to be pilot whales, have already died.
Rescuers with specialised equipment arrived at the site on Monday afternoon to assess the situation.
Such strandings are not common but do happen. It is not known why whales, which travel together in large groups called pods, sometimes swim into trouble but they are known to follow a leader, as well as gather around an injured or distressed whale.
In a happy ending to another lost whale story: a humpback whale that got lost up a crocodile-infested Northern Territory river has swum free after more than two weeks.
Kakadu national park manager 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 told Reuters on Monday.