ONLY 15 short-finned pilot whales have survived after more than 150 of the whales beached themselves at Hamelin Bay near Augusta early overnight.
Department of Parks and Wildlife staff are at the scene with veterinary assistance and volunteer to ensure the welfare of the surviving whales.
Incident controller Jeremy Chick said the 15 live whales were currently in shallow waters and the plan was to herd them out to deeper waters later this afternoon.
“Unfortunately, most of the whales beached themselves on dry land overnight and have not survived,” he said.
“There are only 15 surviving in shallow waters and we hope to move them out to sea later today.
“Rescue operations will be hampered by deteriorating, weather conditions and we need to ensure the safety of everyone involved before we move the whales.”
Mr Chick said the department had received many offers of help from the community and thanked them for their support, however there were enough trained staff and volunteers on site and people were asked to avoid the area.
The department is working with the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to remove the deceased whales from the beach, while Parks and Wildlife Service officers are taking DNA samples from the deceased whales to try and determine possible clues for why whales strand.
Hamelin Beach remains closed from Hamelin Caravan Park to North Point including Grace Road and Reserve Road. A shark alert has been issued for the area.