New Zealand rescuers hope to save 60 stranded whales

14.02.2015 14:13

Rescuers in New Zealand hope to have
saved 60 pilot whales after about 140 died
when they became stranded on a sandy
The pod became beached on Farewell Spit
in Golden Bay on Friday in one of the worst
such incidents in recent years.
There have been numerous whale
strandings in the past on the narrow spit at
the northern end of the South Island, 95
miles (150km) west of Nelson.
Hundreds of conservation staff and
volunteers worked to refloat the whales on
Friday, but 24 had died by nightfall. Many
of the refloated whales became stranded
again on Saturday about 4 miles west of
the original beaching and subsequently
Department of Conservation area manager
Andrew Lamason said: “Each time they re-
strand their health goes down quite
dramatically.”The surviving whales were kept alive on
Saturday until they could be refloated at
high tide in the early evening.
Lead whales were taken out on pontoons
and other whales were moved to follow
them, Lamason said.
“They’re all off and the lead whales are
actually now swimming into deep water
and are going in the right direction,” he
said. “Our guys are moving in behind them
to keep an eye on them and it’s looking
quite good.”
The whales will be monitored overnight.
Pilot whales grow to about 20ft (6 metres)
in length and are the most common species
of whale found in New Zealand waters.
The geography of Golden Bay meant it was
often the site of strandings, Lamason said.
“It’s a big, shallow hook. Things come in,
they get disoriented, and unfortunately we
end up with a lot of dead whales.
“The whales also go through a lot of
physical and emotional trauma. It’s sad but
in a way it’s how nature works.”
Lamason said the incident had been
distressing. “There’s a lot of young ones
out there that have already passed away.
It’s been quite an emotional time for our