NZ rescuers save 9 whales stranded on beach

Aug 22, 2010

(AP) -- Crews with bulldozers buried 49 pilot whales in sand dunes on an isolated northern New Zealand beach Sunday after rescuers managed to save only nine from a group that was stranded on the beach for two days.

Indigenous Maori elders chanted prayers over the carcasses before bulldozers stripped open a trench above the waterline to bury the mammals, which died despite efforts by more than 200 rescuers.

The rescuers refloated 13 of the beached Saturday after a mass stranding of 58 of them on remote Karikari Beach. Four of the 13 survivors later were euthanized after they beached again, bringing the overall death toll to 49.

The survivors had headed out to sea Saturday afternoon and were monitored to ensure they did not return to the beach, Conservation Department spokeswoman Carolyn Smith said. But within an hour four of them became stranded again, Smith said.

Rescuers spent two hours trying to help them, but as darkness fell officials decided to kill the distressed whales to prevent the nine survivors from being lured back by their distress calls.

The remaining nine were later observed swimming strongly and steadily back out to sea.

The full pod of pilot whales that beached Thursday night on the storm-tossed Karikari Beach were stranded for up to 12 hours before they were discovered - the reason so many died, Smith said.

On Friday, conservation department workers and trained volunteers from the Far North Whale Rescue group struggled unsuccessfully to refloat the survivors, hindered by heavy seas and wind. On Saturday they used a crane and body sling to lift and then transport them half a mile (a kilometer) to Matai Bay, a sheltered location with calmer waters.

A pod of 101 was stranded on the same beach in 2007.

New Zealand has one of the world's highest rates of whale strandings, mainly during their migration to and from .

Since 1840, the Department of Conservation has recorded more than 5,000 strandings of whales and dolphins around the New Zealand coast. Scientists have not been able to determine why whales become stranded.

Explore further: Scientists discover new 'transformer frog' in Ecuador

0 shares

Related Stories

Nine rescued whales beach again in Australia

Mar 25, 2009

All but one of the 10 whales that survived a mass beaching on Australia's west coast were Wednesday believed to have come back ashore and were unlikely to survive, authorities said.

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new 'transformer frog' in Ecuador

14 hours ago

It doesn't turn into Prince Charming, but a new species of frog discovered in Ecuador has earned the nickname "transformer frog" for its ability to change its skin from spiny to smooth in five minutes.

US gives threatened status to northern long-eared bat

17 hours ago

The federal government said Wednesday that it is listing the northern long-eared bat as threatened, giving new protections to a species that has been nearly wiped out in some areas by the spread of a fungal ...

Mice sing like songbirds to woo mates

18 hours ago

Male mice sing surprisingly complex songs to seduce females, sort of like songbirds, according to a new Duke study appearing April 1 in the Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience.

A new crustacean species found in Galicia

18 hours ago

One reason that tourists are attracted to Galicia is for its food. The town of O Grove (Pontevedra) is well known for its Seafood Festival and the Spider Crab Festival. A group of researchers from the University ...

Ants in space find it tougher going than those on Earth

20 hours ago

(Phys.org)—The results of a study conducted to see how well ants carry out their search activities in space are in, and the team that sent them there has written and published the results in the journal ...

Rats found able to recognize pain in other rat faces

20 hours ago

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers working in Japan with affiliations to several institutions in that country, has found that lab rats are able to recognize pain in the faces of other rats and avoid them ...

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.