One of the dead sperm whales discovered
© Department of Natural Resources and EnvironmentOne of the dead sperm whales discovered on the rocks on the west coast of King Island.
More than a dozen sperm whales have died and washed ashore on King Island, north of Tasmania.

The whales appeared to be young males and were dead when the stranding was reported on Monday afternoon, Tasmania's Department of Natural Resources and Environment said on Tuesday.

There are at least 14 carcasses on the island's west coast.

Wildlife biologists and a vet are travelling to the island to investigate, while Parks and Wildlife Services staff are on site monitoring the situation.

"It is possible the whales were part of the same bachelor pod - a group of younger male sperm whales associating together after leaving the maternal group," a department spokesperson said.

"Members of the public are reminded it is an offence to interfere with protected wildlife, including being in possession of parts of a dead whale, and are asked to keep their distance."

The department said it was not unusual for sperm whales to be seen in the area and aerial surveys will be conducted to see if there were other whales in the area.

Surfers and swimmers should also avoid the immediate area as the carcasses may attract sharks.

It was only two years ago that hundreds of whales died after being stranded on Tasmania's west coast.

The 470 long-finned pilot whales were found beached on sandbars at Macquarie Harbour in September 2020 in what was the biggest mass stranding on record in Australia.

After a week-long rescue effort, only 111 whales could be saved, leaving authorities to dispose of more than 350 carcasses.

Source: Australian Associated Press