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51 Pilot Whales Die In Third New Zealand Mass Stranding In A Week

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Fifty-one whales are being prepared for a mass burial after the third mass stranding in New Zealand. This is the common practice for dealing with dead marine mammals.   ( New Zealand Department of Conservation )

Fifty one pilot whales are added to the number of already deceased whales in the third stranding event in New Zealand. Investigations are still ongoing to find out the case of the tragedy.

51 Pilot Whales Dead

For the third time in a single week, whales were found stranded on the shores of New Zealand. This time, the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) was informed of an overnight mass stranding of about 80 to 90 pilot whales at Hanson Bay near Owenga in Chatham Islands.

By the time that authorities arrived on the scene, about 30 to 40 of the whales had already re-floated and returned to sea but 51 still remained. Unfortunately, 50 of the whales were already dead, and authorities decided to euthanize the one left alive because it was already in very poor conditions and there was said to be no more likelihood of successfully saving it.

“Sadly, the decision was made to euthanise. It was the most humane thing to do. This is always an awful decision to have to make,” said DOC Chatham Islands Operations Manager Dave Carlton.

New Zealand Whale Strandings

The event was unfortunately already the third stranding event in New Zealand in a single week. Earlier in the week, 145 pilot whales were found stranded on Rakiura/Stewart Island in which none of the whales survived, while 10 pygmy killer whales were also found stranded on a beach in Northland.

As such, skin and blubber samples were already taken for testing, and the DOC is working with locals to help bury the deceased whales.

Marine Mammal Strandings

It is not entirely clear why marine mammals such as dolphins and mammals get stranded, but factors such as geographical features, rapidly falling tides, navigational errors, extreme weather, or being chased by a predator are possible causes.

In a video, DOC Technical Adviser Dr. Dave Lundquist explains that while it is natural to think that the events are related, there is so far no evidence to suggest that they are directly linked.

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