More than 200 whales have been stranded on a remote beach in Macquarie Bay, on the western Australian island of Tasmania. Only half appear to be alive, according to authorities.

“A group of around 230” pilot whales were found stranded on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia, and it seems that only “half of the animals are alive”, said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the state of Tasmania.

Aerial images showed a devastating scene of dozens of black cetaceans sprawled out along a beach where icy water from the south meets sand.

Almost two years ago in the same area there was another massive stranding of almost 500 pilot whales, of which only 100 survived.

The causes of mass strandings are not fully known. Scientists have suggested they could be caused by herds drifting off after feeding too close to shore.

Pilot whales are highly social and often follow their pod mates who venture into dangerous situations.

The authorities announced that marine conservation experts and personnel with a whale rescue team are heading to the site where these whales are found.

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