Authorities have confirmed 380 pilot whales have died in a mass stranding on Tasmania's west coast, which is believed to be the largest ever recorded in Australia.
Rescuers have managed to free 50 whales from sandbars at Macquarie Heads, while as of Wednesday afternoon 30 whales remain stuck and fighting for life.
"We'll continue to work to free as many of the animals as we can," Parks and Wildlife manager Nic Deka said.
"We'll continue working for as long as there are live animals."
A 270-strong pod was initially discovered stranded on Monday morning, with a separate group of 200 spotted by air on Wednesday, taking the tally to 470.
All of the second group have been confirmed dead.
"This is definitely the biggest (mass stranding) in Tasmania and we believe it is the biggest in Australia, in terms of numbers stranded and died," marine biologist Kris Carlyon said.
Dr Carlyon earlier said the pod may have been drawn into the coast to feed or by the misadventure of one or two individuals.
"It's really likely this was the one stranding event of a big group. This would have been one big group offshore," he added.
Experts have labelled the rescue operation "one of the trickiest" due to the number of animals and unique tides in the area.
Authorities are considering how to handle the grim task of getting rid of the carcasses.
The previous biggest mass stranding in Tasmania was in 1935, when 294 long-finned pilot whales beached at Stanley.
In 1996, 320 of the same species stranded at Dunsborough in Western Australia. All but 20 survived.
Australian Associated Press