Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Scores of pilot whales dead in New Zealand stranding

WELLINGTON — Almost 100 pilot whales have died in a mass stranding on New Zealand's remote Chatham Islands, conservation officials said Wednesday (Nov 25).

A photo from Feb 11, 2017 shows fishermen looking at pilot whales which died in a mass stranding at Farewell Spit. A recent mass stranding left almost 100 pilot whales have dead on New Zealand's remote Chatham Islands, conservation officials said on Nov 25, 2020.

A photo from Feb 11, 2017 shows fishermen looking at pilot whales which died in a mass stranding at Farewell Spit. A recent mass stranding left almost 100 pilot whales have dead on New Zealand's remote Chatham Islands, conservation officials said on Nov 25, 2020.

WELLINGTON — Almost 100 pilot whales have died in a mass stranding on New Zealand's remote Chatham Islands, conservation officials said Wednesday (Nov 25).

Most of the marine mammals beached themselves over the weekend but rescue efforts were hampered by the area's isolated location, about 800km east of the South Island, the Department of Conservation said.

Department biodiversity ranger Jemma Welch said 69 whales had already died by the time wildlife officers reached the beach.

She said 28 pilot whales, including two that beached on Monday after the initial stranding, and three dolphins were euthanised.

Ms Welch said the animals had to be put down "due to the rough sea conditions and almost certainty of there being great white sharks in the water which are brought in by a stranding like this".

She said members of the local Maori community had performed a ceremony to honour the spirits of the whales, which would be left to decompose naturally.

The Chatham Islands was the site of New Zealand's largest recorded mass stranding, when 1,000 beached themselves in 1918.

Pilot whales grow up to 6m long and are the most common species of whale in New Zealand waters.

The causes of mass strandings remain unknown despite scientists studying the phenomenon for decades.

Theories include pod members following a sick leader ashore, shoreline geography that scrambles the animals' sonar, the presence of predators and extreme weather. AFP

Related topics

whale New Zealand marine life

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.