82 whales stranded on New Zealand coast

February 4, 2011
This file photo shows beached pilot whales, in 2009. Ten pilot whales died when about 82 of the mammals beached at the top of New Zealand's South Island on Friday, officials said, warning that the others could not be refloated immediately.

Ten pilot whales died when about 82 of the mammals beached at the top of New Zealand's South Island on Friday, officials said, warning that the others could not be refloated immediately.

"It is an ordeal for them to be exposed stranded like that and be exposed in the sun," Conservation Department spokeswoman Trish Grant said. "Unfortunately some just do die."

"We'd be optimistic that there's surviving tomorrow that we can refloat."

The stranding occurred at Farewell Spit on Golden Bay, about 150 kilometres (95 miles) west of the tourist city of Nelson.

Local residents initially reported about 30 whales were stranded and the number grew through the afternoon.

About 100 department of conservation staff were working to keep the whales cool and hydrated in the afternoon sun, Grant said.

The next high tide was due around midnight but it would be too dangerous to refloat the whales then and staff would wait until the morning to carry out the rescue attempt.

Whale strandings are not uncommon in the area and Grant said there were various theories why the animals beached themselves.

"It's something that has occurred reasonably often in Golden Bay with , and just even the shape of the bay could mean they kind of get a bit caught with the spit coming round, so it could just be navigational error."

Pilot whales up to six metres (20 feet) long are the most common species of whale seen in waters.

Last month 24 died after stranding near Cape Reinga in the far north of the country.

In December 2009, more than 120 whales died in two separate beachings at Farewell Spit and Colville Bay in the North Island.

Explore further: Whales die in Tasmanian stranding

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5 comments

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kevinrtrs
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2011

There are just too many occurrences of whales dying in this fashion to be attributed to "just navigational error".

I suggest there's something else going on. One thing that springs to mind is pollution by human beings affecting the fish.
panorama
4.7 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2011
One thing that springs to mind is pollution by human beings affecting the fish.

What do you mean by pollution? Noise pollution? Also, I hate to break this to you, but whales aren't fish.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2011

There are just too many occurrences of whales dying in this fashion to be attributed to "just navigational error".

Coastal sonar stations effectively blind sea animals that rely on echolocation, like whales and dolphins. Imagine trying to drive to work with a flood light in your face and a jackhammer in your ear.
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2011
Pollution, sonar, I would bet it is something we are doing. Maybe they just don't like swimming in our toilet.

I went on a cruise in the carib years ago. Was watching little islands go by one day and I saw huge clouds of brown stuff being emitted from the side of the ship. Guess what that was? I am sure that this ship didn't offload ANYTHING except people when the cruise was over.

I would like to know if there is any record of the beaching phenomena before the 20th century.
Quantum_Conundrum
5 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2011
... I saw huge clouds of brown stuff being emitted from the side of the ship. Guess what that was?


You realize that everything in the ocean, which is around 90% of all life on this planet, and including aquatic whales, excretes it's waste right back into the ocean?

How big do you think a whale turd is? I bet those pilot whales probably crap like a half ton at a time...

Some sewage over the side of a boat is insignificant pal...

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