An­guish as 240 more whales stranded

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Abul Ta­her

THE mass strand­ing of whales on a re­mote beach in New Zealand took a sad twist yesterday as a new pod of 240 whales swam aground.

The new group has taken the to­tal num­ber of whales beached on the shore to over 650, mak­ing it one of the worst in­ci­dents of its kind in New Zealand’s his­tory.

The lat­est pod of whales were washed on the shore only hours af­ter res­cuers re­floated 100 sur­vivors from the ear­lier group of 416 stranded whales.

Dur­ing the re­float­ing, more than 100 res­cuers braved sharks and stingrays to form a hu­man chain in neck-deep wa­ter to en­sure the whales did not strand them­selves on the same beach again.

Yesterday, vol­un­teers – who had ar­rived from all over New Zealand – were head­ing back to the beach at Farewell Spit, in the north­ern tip of South Is­land, to help the new batch.

The 650 pi­lot whales all beached along a three-mile stretch of shore, with ex­perts un­sure as to what is caus­ing them to swim to ground. One the­ory is that the whales were at­tacked by sharks, as bite marks have been found on the bod­ies of some.

How­ever, other ex­perts said the pres­ence of so many calves and moth­ers sug­gested the strand­ing is linked to sea­sonal mi­gra­tion.

New Zealand au­thor­i­ties have re­vealed 335 whales are dead, of which 20 were eu­thanised be­cause of their poor con­di­tion. Last night, around 200 whales re­mained stranded as dark­ness fell and res­cuers had to sus­pend at­tempts to re­float them.

Ex­perts are sure yesterday’s beach­ing was of a new pod, as all the whales re­floated on Fri­day were tagged.

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