Tuesday, February 23, 2021

New Zealand: dozens of pilot whales stranded – nine animals perished


Around 50 long-finned pilot whales got stranded in shallow water on the coast of New Zealand. More than 60 helpers fought for the survival of the animals on Monday, as the authority responsible for nature conservation DOC announced.

The 49 marine mammals were discovered that morning at the Farewell Spit headland in the far north of the South Island. Nine of them died by the afternoon. The helpers tried to keep the remaining whales alive until the high tide by keeping them cool and wet.

Why the marine mammals stranded is unclear. For the group it seemed to be the first time, the animals showed no abrasions, the broadcaster Radio New Zealand quoted the game warden Amanda Harvey.

Long-fin pilot whales belong to the dolphin family. The dark mammals can be up to eight meters long.

There have been at least ten mass strandings on the Farewell Spit headland in the past 15 years. Most recently, almost 700 whales stranded there in February 2017, 250 of which died.

Scientists are puzzling why such fatal incidents keep coming back on the headland. According to one theory, it could be because the water is particularly shallow at this point, which disrupts the animals’ biosonar.

Icon: The mirror



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