Killer whales die in rare New Zealand mass stranding

Feb 12, 2014
This photo, released by the Department of Conservation New Zealand, shows a pod of beached killer whales at the remote Blue Cliffs Beach on the far south coast of the South Island, on February 12, 2014

A pod of nine killer whales died on Wednesday in a rare mass stranding on the New Zealand coast, in a loss conservationists said was a major blow to the local orca population.

The pod, comprising eight adults and one juvenile, beached themselves at the remote Blue Cliffs Beach on the far south coast of the South Island, Department of Conservation spokesman Reuben Williams said.

"By the time we were able to reach them they were all dead," he told AFP.

Mass strandings of are common in New Zealand but Williams said it was unusual for so many orcas to run aground at the same time.

"We don't know the reason why they stranded (themselves)," he said.

"It's unfortunate and will have quite a major impact on the national population which is sitting around 200 animals."

Williams said the carcass of one whale had been retrieved for research and local Maori people, who consider the animals sacred, were being consulted about disposing of the rest.

Orcas, the largest members of the dolphin family with no natural predator, can grow to lengths of up to 9.8 metres (32 feet).

The black-and-white animals are the most widely distributed cetacean species in the world. They are highly sociable and live in pods of up to 50 members.

Explore further: Telling the time of day by color

Related Stories

Pilot whales stranded on New Zealand beach

Nov 15, 2012

A pod of 28 pilot whales that were left stranded on a New Zealand beach on Thursday are likely be put down as there is little chance of refloating them, wildlife officials said.

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.

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

20 hours ago

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Aphrodisiac for fish and frogs discovered

Apr 17, 2015

A supplement simply added to water has been shown to boost reproduction in nematodes (roundworms), molluscs, fish and frogs – and researchers believe it could work for humans too.

Evolution puts checks on virgin births

Apr 17, 2015

It seems unnatural that a species could survive without having sex. Yet over the ages, evolution has endowed females of certain species of amphibians, reptiles and fish with the ability to clone themselves, ...

Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

Apr 16, 2015

When humans and their four-legged, furry best friends look into one another's eyes, there is biological evidence that their bond strengthens, researchers report.

Roundworm parasite targets canine eyes

Apr 16, 2015

(HealthDay)—A small number of dogs and cats across the United States have been infected by a roundworm parasite that targets the eye, according to a new report.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
5 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2014
Sigh.... :(

How depressing.

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.