Science

Pilot Whales Mass Stranding In New Zealand: More Than 350 Dead

By Irene Guerrero , Feb 13, 2017 02:31 AM EST
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It was a heartbreak when pilot whale mass stranding occurred in New Zealand almost a week ago. There were two separate pilot whales mass stranding, one of which was in New Zealand's Farewell Spit. More than 650 pilot whales beached themselves on a small island. Over 350 of the pilot whales died over the past few days.

When the volunteers and rescuers had to take a rest for the Saturday night, hundreds of pilot whale survivors remained ashore. However, when the team returned Sunday morning to continue the rescue mission they were astonished that almost all the surviving whales were gone. All except 17 pilot whales were able to get back to the waters of Golden Bay overnight.

Herb Christophers, a Department of Conservation spokesman said that the night they left the 240 pilot whale survivors, they fear that they might end up with 240 dead pilot whales in the morning. However, the pilot whales were able to save themselves, he guessed that the tide night has come in and the pilot whales were able to swim back into the sea. A conservation worker spotted about 400 pilot whales were stranded ashore.

Hundreds of volunteers spent days keeping the whales cool. They pour water on the beached pilot whales while waiting for the high tides cue to carry the whale out to sea again. Unfortunately more than half of the pod died. The pilot whale strandings have been New Zealand’s largest record in decades. The exact cause cannot be determined yet. But whales mass stranding in Golden Bay is common. According to the Live Science, because of the stranding, the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand has restricted airspace over the Farewell Spit Nature Reserve. Except for drones or helicopters from flying under 2,000 feet there.

According to the CBC, the Golden Bay’s muddy waters might have confused the marine mammal’s sonar. Making them susceptible to stranding by an ebb tide. Pilot whales are not among those on the endangered animal list, however, there is insufficient information about their population in New Zealand.

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