In New Zealand, a large group of pilot whales have become stranded at Farewell Spit, an elongated strip on the north coast of the South Island. About 150 rescue workers are trying to help the 38 whales back to the open sea. Help came too late for eleven pilot whales.
The pilot whales were found local time on Monday morning. Volunteers were called in to keep the whales cool and wet until they could swim through the tide again.
Then the rescue workers formed a chain around the pilot whales. First they have to get used to the water and regain their balance, Darren Foxwell of the New Zealand government’s conservation organization tells local media: Swim away by themselves. We let them go as a group when they all float again. Then it is thumbs that they swim back to the sea and do not strand again at night.
Pilot whales wash ashore more often at Farewell Spit. Four years ago, there were even 650, which stranded in two groups. About half of them did not survive. Why there are so many pilot whales on this coast is not entirely clear. It may have to do with the shape of the coast, which makes it difficult for whales to navigate when they get too close to land.
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