A pod of 198 pilot whales washed up on a New Zealand beach Friday, in a spot well known for stranded whales, leaving over 100 dead. Conservationist rescuers are working diligently to save the remaining pilot whales from death. Nearly 140 volunteers showed up on the beach to help float the remaining living pilot whales back out to sea. The group of conservationists worked until late in the evening to save as many of the remaining whales as possible, hoping to prevent more unnecessary deaths. The large number of whales found stranded on the beach was much more than the normal one or two that the area is used to.
CNN reported that the pilot whales were discovered on Friday on Farewell Spit, a thin slice of land that protrudes out into the sea from the Northern portion of New Zealand’s South Island. The piece of land is well-known for the appearance of beached whales, although only one of two are commonplace. In this instance, a pod of 198 whales were found on the small beach. Conservationists put out a call for volunteers to arrive and help float the survivors back to sea, where they would be safe.
Andrew Lamason is the department’s services manager for Golden Bay and has experienced beached whales before. Floating them out to sea is a difficult process, especially when so many are involved.
“Refloating stranded whales is a difficult and potentially dangerous job.”
Sky News also reported on the mass beaching, stating that the conservationists were successful in floating many of the whales back out to the sea, only for them to swim back onto shore overnight. Another attempt was made on Saturday morning, leading to what they believe was a successful attempt.
Lamason does not believe there is anything strange about the common appearance of beached whales, even the large number that appeared this time. Instead, he simply blames it on geography.
“It’s highly likely it’s the geography, potentially they’re coming in here hunting for fish and becoming disorientated and dying. It could be that some of the pods are sick and that brings them up on to the beach, we don’t really know.”
After the rescue attempt took place, nearly 60 of the 198 pilot whales were saved. Attention has now been turned on disposing of the bodies of the remaining dead whales before their bodies begin to decompose.
[Photo Courtesy: Sky News]