61 whales die in New Zealand mass stranding

Nov 16, 2011
This handout photo taken on February 20, 2011 by New Zealand's Department of Conservation shows pilot whales stranded on a remote beach on Stewart Island. More than 60 pilot whales died in a mass stranding at a remote New Zealand beach, conservation officials said Wednesday.

More than 60 pilot whales died in a mass stranding at a remote New Zealand beach, conservation officials said Wednesday.

Tourists found the pod of 61 beached whales on Monday at Farewell Spit, on the top of the South Island, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said.

DOC local manager John Mason said a large number were already dead and hopes the would refloat at high tide on Tuesday were dashed when the whales swam back to shore.

He said 18 whales remained alive early Wednesday and DOC staff decided to euthanize them, rather than prolong their suffering.

"It's the worst outcome and it's not a job our staff enjoy doing at all," Mason said.

up to six metres (20 feet) long are the most common species of whale in New Zealand waters, with mass standings occurring about two or three times a year.

Scientists are unsure why pilot beach themselves, although they speculate it may occur when their sonar becomes scrambled in or when a sick member of the pod heads for shore and others follow.

Explore further: Big city life: New leafhopper species found on a threatened grass in New Jersey

Related Stories

82 whales stranded on New Zealand coast

Feb 04, 2011

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.

Recommended for you

Mitochondrial metagenomics: How '-omics' is saving wild bees

4 hours ago

Mitochondrial genome (mitogenome) database demonstrated its great value on detecting wild bees in UK farms via mitochondrial metagenomics pipeline, a new approach developed by scientists from the China National Genebank (CNGB), ...

Study shows grey squirrels are quick learners

Jul 06, 2015

They may be viewed by some as an invasive species or a commonplace pest of public parks, but a new study from the University of Exeter has shown that grey squirrels are actually quick learners capable of ...

Age and fertility in social insects

Jul 06, 2015

A new research unit coordinated at the University of Freiburg tackles the question of why the otherwise usual trade-off between fecundity and lifespan in multicellular organisms is not present in social insects ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Egnite
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
..or when a sick member of the pod heads for shore and others follow.

Damn those cult mass suicides!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.