Hun­dreds join ef­forts to re­float stranded whales

The Weekend Post - - World -

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.

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