The Press

Mass strand­ing leaves a ‘sad’ emo­tional scene

- Animals · Whales · Ecology · Incidents · Wildlife · New Zealand Department of Conservation

More than 100 pi­lot whales and bot­tlenose dol­phins are dead af­ter be­ing stranded on the Chatham Is­lands.

Com­mer­cial diver and pho­tog­ra­pher SamWild said the whales were stranded at a north­ern beach on the main Chatham Is­land over the week­end.

He said it was a hor­rific and emo­tional scene.

Lo­cals had put out word of the strand­ing the day be­fore, he said.

‘‘I mean the Chatham Is­lands ... is a pretty re­mote place, their beaches are pretty re­mote, there’s not a lot of peo­ple around them so when they were even­tu­ally found the ra­dio call went out to a few peo­ple, cause there’s so many divers around the is­land, my­self in­cluded.’’

Wild said the div­ing com­mu­nity was told to stay out of the wa­ter when there had been a whale strand­ing be­cause the Chatham Is­lands had a pop­u­la­tion of great white sharks

which might come in to feed on the car­casses.

‘‘So [I] stayed out of the wa­ter and took the cam­era in­stead and, yeah, it was pretty sad to see,’’ he said.

Wild said the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion had been to the area the pre­vi­ous day to gather data and to eu­thanise some of the whales.

Whale strand­ings hap­pened ev­ery year or two on the is­lands, he said.

The De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion’s web­site de­scribes the Chatham Is­lands as amass strand­ing ‘‘hotspot’’ for pi­lot whales, adding that the big­gest recorded pi­lot whale strand­ing was when an es­ti­mated 1000 whales stranded in the Chatham Is­lands in 1918. – RNZ

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 ?? SAM WILD/RNZ ?? An aerial photo of some of the es­ti­mated 100 pi­lot whales and bot­tlenose dol­phins which stranded on the Chatham Is­lands.
SAM WILD/RNZ An aerial photo of some of the es­ti­mated 100 pi­lot whales and bot­tlenose dol­phins which stranded on the Chatham Is­lands.

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