240 Stranded New Zealand Whales Refloat, Officials Warn Carcasses May ‘Explode’

There are now signs of optimism over at Golden Bay, in South Island, after more than a couple of hundred whales that were previously stranded in the New Zealand shores did not end up in the casualty figures.

According to the country’s conservation authorities, a pod of 240 pilot whales ran aground on Sunday afternoon, but were able to successfully swim away from the shore by themselves with the help of the surging tide.

“We had 240 whales strand yesterday in the afternoon and we were fearful we were going to end up with 240 dead whales this morning,” said Herb Christophers, a spokesperson for the Department of Conservation. “But they self-rescued, in other words the tide came in and they were able to float off and swim out to sea.”

Officials and Volunteers Alike Are Working Hand-In-Hand To Save The Whales

News of one of the largest and most heartrending mass stranding of pilot whales broke out last week after a staff member from the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) noticed Thursday evening that more than 400 of these marine mammals were stuck on the shores and were unable to refloat, Reuters UK reported.

Three hundred of the stranded whales have perished by Friday when the DOC officials arrived at the ghastly scene. Volunteers also thronged the area to lend a hand in the efforts of the conservation authorities to rescue the whales. About 400 of these whales were eventually saved.

DOC officials, Project Jonah, and volunteers do their best to save stranded whales in New Zealand. [Image By Hannah Peters/Getty Images]

The DOC said on Monday afternoon that they were trying to monitor a group of whales numbering in around 200 and were spotted around the waters of Taupata Point, west of the Golden Bay. They fear that the pod might head to the shores once again and get stranded, especially with the ebbing of the tide. The officials have now cordoned off the area both on sea vessels and near the shore to try to prevent any movements of the whales onto the islands.

Beware of Exploding Whale Carcasses

Authorities have now prevented access of the area where the dead bodies of the New Zealand stranded whales can be found. They warn the public of the possibilities of these carcasses exploding on people, wrote Stuff New Zealand.

“These things explode from the stomach and if you’re standing right there it’s not very nice getting a ‘gut bomb’ on your face,” said Mike Ogle, a ranger from the DOC. “I’ve been too close to that a few times myself and it’s really unpleasant; you just get sick.”

They are also working now on how to properly go about the disposal of the rotting bodies of the stranded whales.

The New Zealand DOC officials are now mapping out plans to dispose carcasses of stranded whales. [Image By Sandra Teddy/Getty Images]

“We’ve never had to deal with 250 carcasses before, and most of them weigh over a tonne,” Ogle added. “It’s an awful lot of whales to get rid of.”

There has been a change in the plans for disposal, according to the DOC. The carcasses of the stranded whales will be transferred with the use of a digger to a section of Farewell Spit that is closed to the public. The officials will try to remove the dead bodies away from the areas accessible to the people for walking.

The mass whale stranding at Golden Bay is said to be the third time in New Zealand, and the DOC officials are still unable to tell conclusively what the real cause of the stranding was.

According to the New Zealand marine conservation group Project Jonah, the shallow muddy waters in the area could be at fault. This could create confusion for the whales’ sonar that might lead to their onshore stranding. The pilot whales currently do not belong to the endangered list.

[Featured Image By Sandra Teddy/Getty Images]

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