Monday, 17 December, 2018

More than 50 whales dead after another mass stranding

These 50 Beached Whales Perish Because Of'Ocean Warming Mass whale stranding on Chatham Islands
Kristen Harrington | 30 November, 2018, 18:44

The stranding comes less than a week after 145 whales were stranded in Stewart Island, pictured.

The pod of about 90 whales washed ashore on the remote Chatham Islands, 800km east of the South Island - but more than half were found dead unable to escape.

DoC said it was notified last evening of the stranding of 80 to 90.

When staff arrived at first light, they said they found up to 40 of the whales had refloated themselves but another 50 had died on the beach. All but one were dead.

The remaining whale was euthanised by DOC staff.

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"This is always an very bad decision to have to make".

DOC notified the local Moriori iwi and Ngāti Mutunga iwi and is working with locals to bury the whales where they stranded.

The whales were removed on Friday and buried at the site.

Skin and blubber samples are being taken from the latest whales to have stranded and will be sent to Massey University scientists in an attempt to understand more about this species.

Dr. Dave Lundquist, a technical adviser on marine species, said in a video released by the Conservation Department that there was no evidence to suggest the strandings were linked.

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Twenty-seven pilot whales also died after a mass stranding on a remote beach on the Victorian coast.

The Chatham Islands were the scene of New Zealand's largest recorded stranding in 1918, involving 1,000 whales. The department says one beached whale remained alive, which they made a decision to euthanize due to its poor condition.

The reason why whales and dolphins strand is not fully known but factors can include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, being chased by a predator, or extreme weather.

In addition to the strandings at Chatham and Stewart Islands this week, a group of 12 pygmy killer whales also beached in New Zealand's far north and a sperm whale and a pygmy sperm whale grounded themselves in separate incidents on the North Island.

"We're just going into stranding season now, this is only the beginning of it and we're very mindful of the fact that this a very busy start", she said.

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