Rescuers and Volunteers Race to Save Stranded Whales in New Zealand

NTD Staff
By NTD Staff
February 10, 2017Newsshare

Rescuers and volunteers were racing to save hundreds of pilot whales in New Zealand’s picturesque Golden Bay on Friday (February 10), after one of the country’s largest recorded mass whale strandings.

Up to 300 whales have died and volunteers are trying to send more than fifty more back out to sea, while trying to keep them as comfortable as possible, local media reported.

Many volunteers have come from around the area to help the stranded whales in whatever way they can.

“It’s amazing, I mean there are people from all over the world …  and has heard about this has just come over. We brought three hitchhikers who just said they wanted to come here and do whatever they could,” said one volunteer.

“Yeah, the water is cold but it’s fine, it’s good to be here and help,” added another.

A conservation department worker noticed the whales washed ashore on Thursday (February 9) evening, but the government agency decided against a night rescue effort for fear volunteers would be injured by the whales in the darkness.

“Yeah, this is third largest mass stranding that we have recorded in our history and so it’s a very large one, logistically it’s a massive undertaking. The whales started stranding last night at around about 10 o’clock last night, we were notified of that and then this morning when they went out and checked on them most of the whales were already dead,” said Auckland University Marine Biologist, Rochelle Constantine.

Local media reported on Friday that volunteers had managed to refloat some of the whales during high tide, but most were quickly restranded as the tide ebbed.

It is New Zealand’s largest known whale stranding since 1985 when 450 were stranded in Auckland.

Whales often get stuck at Golden Bay, a remote but popular holiday area at the top of New Zealand’s south island. The bay’s shallow waters make it difficult for whales to return to deeper water, according to marine life rescue organization Jonah Watch.

REUTERS

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