Mass stranding: 145 whales dead in New Zealand

Mass stranding: 145 whales dead in New Zealand

More than 140 pilot whales have died on a remote New Zealand beach, the latest in a recent string of whale strandings and deaths in the country.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said two pods of pilot whales were stranded on a beach on Stewart Island, 30 km (20 miles) south of New Zealand's South Island.

The creatures were discovered by a hiker camping in the area, who notified the Department of Conservation (DOC) on Saturday night.

"It's always a heart-breaking decision to make".

Conservation workers said they were left with no choice but to euthanise half of the whales as the chance of rehabilitating them was "extremely low".

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A sperm whale which beached in Doubtless Bay died overnight on Saturday, while the body of a dead female pygmy sperm whale was found at Ohiwa on the west coast of the North Island.

In a separate incident, 12 pygmy whales became stranded on 90 Mile Beach on New Zealand's North Island.

Across a period of several days past year, more than 650 pilot whales beached themselves on a thin strip of land projecting off New Zealand's South Island. Factors like sickness, navigational error, geographical features, rapidly falling tide, extreme weather or being chased by a predator can cause sea mammals to beach themselves.

It's not fully known why whales or dolphins strand, the agency said.

"The reason for the rāhui was to deter people from going near the whales as they decompose, primarily for their own safety".

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The decision was taken to euthanize the surviving whales, the Department of Conservation said in a statement.

Large numbers of pilot whales have been stranding for as long as we know.

The local Maori tribe will work with the operations manager to bury the whales in accordance to tradition, CNN reported. Leppens said that the whales would have been there for a day as they were half buried in sand suggesting their ill health.

The mass pilot whale stranding at Mason Bay in Rakiura/Stewart Island.

It would have been too hard and required too many people to even attempt to save the surviving whales. Two have since died, with staff planning to try and refloat the remaining eight.

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