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: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

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

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...