A dozen whales have died and many others have been stranded on a sandbar in front of New Zealand’s South Island, despite efforts to get them back into the sea, authorities said on Tuesday.
After being stranded en masse on Monday, the whales stranded during the arrival of the tide during the night, only to be found again on another beach on Tuesday morning. Some 28 whales are alive, while 15 are known to have died so far.
Some of the stranded whales have started swimming further, while others are staying right along the shore, said a spokesman for the New Zealand office for nature protection.
“At this moment, it is not clear whether the whales that are in front of the reef can start again with the arrival of the tide or swim away. We will know that in an hour, “he said.
Rescuers trying to help entered the water in an attempt to encourage the whales to swim away. About 50 people, including volunteers from an environmental organization specializing in rescuing marine mammals, researchers, government officials and citizens, are trying on the spot to help the whales move.
Last year, almost 100 whales and dolphins died during a mass stranding 800 km off New Zealand’s east coast.
Mass strandings are common in New Zealand in recent history, and the reason why this happens has been confusing marine biologists for years.
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