More than 140 stranded whales die on Australian beach (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

More than 150 whales have washed up on a beach in Australia, sparking a huge rescue operation to rescue the 15 survivors.

This entire incident was spotted by a commercial fisherman at daybreak, stranding of 150 whales at Hamelin Bay, some 315 kilometres south of Perth. There's a risk the carcasses will attract sharks and this has caused the authorities to issue warnings against swimming in the area, The Guardian reports.

It's unclear why the whales became stranded in this case, but large groups of short-finned pilot whales have become stranded before.

Authorities were continuing to sweep the surrounding beaches by air and sea on Saturday, although the sheer number of dead whales in the water, rocky terrain and rough seas were hampering efforts.

"Rescue operations will be hampered by deteriorating weather conditions and we need to ensure the safety of everyone involved before we move the whales".

While acknowledging that tests must be performed to find the reason for the stranding, Hodgins theorized that the closely-knit group of whales may have followed a sick member of the group as it lost energy and was pushed ashore by waves. United Kingdom visitor Barrie Brickle described how the whales repeatedly beached themselves after being pushed back to sea.

'I just wanted to comfort them and help them.I couldn't bare to watch and not help, a lot of tears'. Parks and Wildlife Service officers are taking DNA samples from the dead whales to look for clues about why the whales stranded themselves. Authorities said it was not uncommon for migrating short-finned pilots to get stranded. Whales are widely distributed around the Worlds' ocean and are a diverse group of fully aquatic placental marine mammals. In 2009, about 80 whales and dolphins died in a mass beaching at the same location, while 20 whales were beached in Bunbury, western Australia in 2015.

The largest mass stranding of whales in the state was in 1996 when 320 long-finned pilot whales stranded themselves in Dunsborough.