Hundreds join effort to save dying whales

Alicia WestFeb 12, 2017

Department of Conservation Golden Bay operations manager Andrew Lamason said they are sure they are dealing with a new pod because they had tagged all the refloated whales from the first group and none of the new group had tags.

The Department of Conservation says it hopes this original group of about 200 whales are now out at sea.

At least 300 pilot whales were found dead on Friday in New Zealand after over 400 of them were stranded in the remote Golden Bay in South Island.

At high-tide at 10.30am the 100 remaining whales were successfully re floated, but were now milling around the bay just off-shore, said Lamason, who was on the scene.

However, another 80 to 90 whales who were freed re-stranded themselves in the same place just five hours later, Inwood said.

"They may have been picking up some calls from the whales here and come in to respond".

Volunteers discovered that the whales had successfully got back into the water when they went down to the beach to continue their rescue effort at 8am, DoC senior communications advisor Herb Christophers said.

Majority died and rescuers were trying to help surviving ones back into the sea on Saturday. " Almost 200 pilot whales beached themselves in the area two years ago, and many died".

"We have 180 once before but I think a lot of (answers as to why) are unknown really", Inwood, tells Westscott.

Lamason explained to The Guardian that many volunteers were working around the clock in chilly temperatures and mentally traumatic conditions.

Only those wearing wetsuits should come, Ms Palmer said, as the water will be cold today.

Also Read: Did inhospitable weather kill 45 whales on Tamil Nadu coast? "The most likely hypothesis is that pilot whales' echolocation is not well-suited to shallow, gently sloping waters, because they generally prefer high relief (steep) areas such as the edge of the continental shelf", according to a DOC fact sheet.

This is the largest whales stranding incident in New Zealand. DOC and Project Jonah will know by lunchtime if the refloating goes well or not.

Some claim undersea quakes could be a cause of the mysterious beachings.

According to Project Jonah, "strandings are complex events and there are many reasons why dolphins and whales may strand".

Pilot whales are also highly sociable.

Dead pilot whales line the shore at Farewell Spit, Saturday.

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