145 pilot whales dead in New Zealand mass stranding

145 pilot whales dead in New Zealand mass stranding

145 pilot whales dead in New Zealand mass stranding

This handout photo taken and released on November 26, 2018, from the New Zealand Department of Conservation shows dead pilot whales on a remote beach on Stewart Island in the far south of New Zealand.

There were actually two pods of beached whales found Saturday night by a camper in the area.

Two whales have been euthanised after volunteers and conservation staff refloated a group of eight whales stranded on a Northland beach. They made a decision to euthanize the remaining stranded whales because of the difficulty of accessing the remote location. The whales were found at Mason's Bay about 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the main township of Oban.

"However", he added, "it's always a heart-breaking decision to make".

The local Maori tribe will work with the operations manager to bury the whales in accordance to tradition, CNN reported. Contributing factors can include "sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, being chased by a predator, or extreme weather", the DOC's statement said.

Clean-up workers had to "pop" the bloated carcasses of up to 300 long-finned pilot whales that had died at a New Zealand tourist spot in February a year ago to stop them exploding and becoming a health hazard.

A 15-meter male sperm whale died on a North Island beach on Saturday, while a female pygmy sperm whale washed up dead on the west coast of the North Island.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) was contacted and later arrived at the scene to discover around half of the 140 or so whales had died.

Other locations with a history of mass strandings that form natural "whale traps", such as Farewell Spit on the North Island, can be monitored for signs of whale activity.

The whales were in a miserable condition, and there were not enough resources to try and re-float what was left of the two pods, so it was chose to put them down, Leppens said.

The Department of Conservation responds to about 85 whale strandings every year, mostly of single animals, this incident of such a large number of whales is rare. Two have since died and re-float attempts will be made tomorrow.

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