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145 pilot whales dead in New Zealand mass stranding

27 November, 2018, 08:48 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • 145 pilot whales die in mass stranding in New Zealand

As many as 145 whales have died after a "heart-breaking" mass stranding on a remote island, the New Zealand Department of Conservation said on Monday.

Two separate pods were found, beached about 1.2 miles apart along the shoreline.

Authorities said half the whales had already died by then, while the other half were put down as it would have been too hard to save them.

A Department of Conservation (DoC) spokeswoman said that they were among 145 whales which died after becoming beached on Mason Bay, Stewart Island.

The DOC said that it responds to an average of 85 stranding incidents a year, although most involve single marine mammals rather than entire pods.

The incident is one of a series of recent whale strandings in New Zealand.

The rest of the whales were euthanised due to their deteriorating condition and the remote, hard access to the location.

Two of the animals have died, but the authorities launched an appeal on Facebook to encourage the public to help "re-float" the surviving eight whales on Tuesday morning.

There were a number of strandings on New Zealand shores over the weekend, however DOC said these events were unlikely to be related.

Several stranding happened across New Zealand over the weekend.

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Meanwhile, on Sunday, 10 pygmy killer whales were found stranded at Ninety Mile Beach on the North Island.

More strandings appeared to occur over summer and Farewell Spit seemed to be one of the country's most notorious region for strandings, which could be due to the topography of the region.

It's not fully known why whales or dolphins strand, the agency said.

Research is now underway at Massey University looking at whether refloating pilot whales is the best thing for them or if pushing them back into the water was doing more harm.

Possible reasons include sickness, navigational errors, geographical features that confuse the animals, fast-falling tides, being chased by predators or the effects of extreme weather.

Mass strandings are much rarer.

Ren Leppens on the Stewart Island stranding.

The DOC also announced that it was working with a local Maori tribe on the "next steps".

New Zealand was a "global hot-spot for whale strandings".

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