Hundreds join efforts to refloat stranded whales
NEW Zealand volunteers yesterday formed a human chain at a remote beach as they tried to save about 100 whales after more than 400 of the creatures beached themselves in the third biggest whale stranding in the nation’s history.
About three-quarters of the pilot whales were already dead when they were found yesterday morning at Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island.
It’s an area that seems to confuse whales and has been the site of previous mass strandings.
Department of Conserva- tion community ranger Kath Inwood said about 300 volunteers had joined conservation workers on the beach.
She said they had refloated the whales at high tide and had formed the chain in the water to try to prevent them from swimming back ashore.
“It can be really quite distressing seeing so many dead whales,” Ms Inwood said.
“People need to be resilient and handle that and then get on with what needs to be done.”
Volunteers had earlier tried to keep the surviving whales damp and cool by placing blankets over them and dousing them with buckets of water as they waited for the tide to rise.
New Zealand has one of the world’s highest rates of whale strandings. In 1918, 1000 pilot whales came ashore on the Chatham Islands.
FRANTIC: People tend to the whales at Farewell Spit.