Anguish as 240 more whales stranded
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.