Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Dozens of whales dead in latest New Zealand stranding

One of the surviving whale was in poor condition and was euthanised said wildlife officials One of the surviving whale was in poor condition and was euthanised said wildlife officials
Elijah Vega | 30 November, 2018, 21:39

A large number of whales have stranded at the Chatham Islands.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation was called to Hanson Bay on the Chatham Islands after receiving an alert that 80 to 90 of the mammals had stranded themselves - about half were able to escape back to the sea.

When conservationists arrived, they found up to 40 had refloated on their own but another 50 died on the beach.

Despite the efforts of 200 staff and volunteers, who managed to refloat eight of the whales after transporting them to a beach where conditions were calmer, all but one of the whales ended up stranding themselves again by Wednesday. All but one were dead.

She also pointed out that species such as pygmy killer whales and sperm whales did not normally beach, unlike pilot whales, which regularly wash up on New Zealand beaches in the summer months.

Twenty-seven pilot whales also died after a mass stranding on a remote beach on the Victorian coast. This is the second large stranding of pilot whales this week.

"It was the most humane thing to do".

'This is always an bad decision to have to make, ' he said.

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DoC has notified local Moriori, and Ngāti Mutunga iwi.

As is common practice in New Zealand, officials are working closely with local Maori communities to arrange for the handling of the whales.

Skin and blubber samples are being taken from the latest whales to have stranded and will be sent to Massey University scientists in an attempt to understand more about this species.

Whale strandings are not uncommon in New Zealand, but mass incidents are rare and the cause is rarely clear. Two pods stranded at the southern end of Mason Bay, approximately 2km apart.

The reason why whales and dolphins strand is not fully known but factors can include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, being chased by a predator, or extreme weather.

The Department of Conservation responds to an average of 85 strandings per year, but most involve only a single animal. The department said one beached whale remained alive, which staff made a decision to euthanize due to its poor condition.

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

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