Pilot whales strand again on New Zealand beach

Jan 24, 2012
This file photo, released by Southland Times, shows pilot whales, stranded on a remote beach in New Zealand, in 2003. Mass strandings are common on the New Zealand coast and more than 50 pilot whales have died in two separate beachings in the same area in the past two months.

A pod of about 40 beached pilot whales re-stranded themselves in New Zealand Tuesday after volunteers worked for hours to get them back into the sea, officials said.

The pod was part of a larger group of about 100 pilot whales which stranded at Golden Bay on the South Island on Monday, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said.

DOC spokesman Nigel Mountford said 34 of the original pod were confirmed dead and 26 were successfully refloated late Monday and had swum offshore.

He said hopes were fading for the remaining pilot whales, which swam back to shore after volunteers manoeuvred them into the water early Tuesday afternoon.

"It's disappointing, they just came back on shore," he said.

"They'll have to take their chances at high tide overnight. It's too dangerous for our volunteers to stay through the night, we're working right at the edge of our capability."

Mass strandings are common on the New Zealand coast and more than 50 pilot whales have died in two separate beachings in the same area in the past two months.

Pilot whales, which are members of the dolphin family and grow up to six metres (20 feet) long, are a common sight in waters.

Scientists are unsure why 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: China's latest survey finds increase in wild giant pandas

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ninety whales stranded on New Zealand beach

Jan 23, 2012

A pod of 90 pilot whales have beached themselves at the top of New Zealand's South island, in the same area where seven whales died in a mass stranding earlier this month, according to officials.

80 pilot whales stranded on New Zealand beach

Sep 22, 2010

(AP) -- At least 40 out of 80 pilot whales that stranded themselves on a remote northern New Zealand beach have died, and more whales are joining them on land, officials said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

China's latest survey finds increase in wild giant pandas

Feb 28, 2015

(AP)—Wild giant pandas in China are doing well. According to a census by China's State Forestry Administration, the panda population has grown by 268 to a total of 1,864 since the last survey ending in ...

A molecular compass for bird navigation

Feb 27, 2015

Each year, the Arctic Tern travels over 40,000 miles, migrating nearly from pole to pole and back again. Other birds make similar (though shorter) journeys in search of warmer climes. How do these birds manage ...

100,000 bird samples online

Feb 27, 2015

The Natural History Museum (NHM) in Oslo has a bird collection of international size. It is now available online.

User comments : 0

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.