Scientists hope to learn from tragic whale stranding at Cheynes Beach near Albany

Scientists hope to learn valuable information about whale genetics and behaviour after close to 100 animals died on a West Australian beach.

Fifty-two long-finned pilot whales initially died during a mass stranding on Cheynes Beach, 60km east of Albany in the state’s south.

On Wednesday night, wildlife authorities made the difficult decision to euthanise the surviving 45 after failed attempts to return them to deeper water.

Incident controller Peter Hartley said the 350 people involved in helping the animals, including about 250 volunteers, did everything they could.

“We know whale strandings are a natural phenomenon but we gave it a good go, spending the whole day in the water with those animals to give them the best opportunity,” Hartley said.

“This is nature. It’s a natural phenomenon we know very little about.”

Hartley said the decision to euthanise the remaining whales was probably one of the hardest in his 34 years in wildlife management.

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