More than 400 Pilot Whales found beached in New Zealand

Whales_on_beach,_Farewell_Split,_South_Island,_New_Zealand

Volunteers raced to the scene after more than 400 Pilot Whales were discovered beached at Farewell Spit, situated on New Zealand’s South Island on Friday 10th February.

The whale stranding is reportedly one of the worst cases New Zealand has ever witnessed.

Even a human chain, with volunteers toiling neck deep in water, failed to prevent a fresh pod surfacing onto the beach, which is next to Golden Bay.

Conservationists, medics, and members of public attended the scene and tried to keep survivors alive by cooling them with water.

Despite the volunteers efforts, more than 300 of the original 400 whales that beached died.

One volunteer said “people from all over the world are helping to save the whales”, describing how he had picked up three hitchhikers who wanted to join in on the efforts.

Fresh pods of whales appeared on the sand throughout Friday, and several whales re-floated by volunteers made their way back to the beach overnight.

However, rescue efforts have since been helped by a high tide, and a fresh pod of whales arriving at the bay during Saturday morning.

Andrew Lamason, the Department of Conservations Regional Manager, commented: “Fingers crossed the new whales are going to lead the survivors back out into deeper water”.

There is much speculation as to why the whales first appeared washed up on the beach.

Bite marks were discovered on one of the dead whales, suggesting they may have been chased onto dry land by sharks.

Once out of deep water, the animals use of echolocation becomes impaired.

Experts have suggested that the shallow waters of Farewell Spit seem to confuse whales and impair their navigation abilities.

Whale stranding is common in New Zealand, with around 300 whales and dolphins washing up onto its beaches each year.

During February 2015, approximately 200 whales beached themselves at the same location.