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: Study shows even newly hatched chicks have a left to right number space map (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Baleen whales hear through their bones

Jan 29, 2015

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. New research by San Diego State University biologist Ted W. Cranford and University of California, San Diego engineer ...

Starving honey bees lose self-control

Jan 29, 2015

A study in the journal of the Royal Society Biology Letters has found that starving bees lose their self-control and act impulsively, choosing small immediate rewards over waiting for larger rewards.

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.