New Zealand rescuers succeeded on Tuesday in releasing “pilot dolphins” trapped on the coast. The mammals have unfortunately failed to take to the sea and are threatening to run aground again.
The “pilot dolphins” are not yet out of danger. 28 pilot whales trapped on the coast were released by New Zealand rescuers. The group unfortunately remains very close to the coast and threatens to run aground again.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the mammals were part of a herd of about 50 “pilot dolphins” found stranded Monday at Farewell Spit, a sandy tongue 90 kilometers north of the tourist town of Nelson , located in the far north of the South Island.
About forty cetaceans were released Monday evening before beaching again Tuesday morning. About sixty volunteers helped put the 28 mammals back in the water. “Cetaceans are close to shore and it is not certain that they will swim offshore or run aground again,” a DOC spokeswoman said. Volunteers and employees of the ministry remain on site, ready to intervene if necessary, she explained. At least 15 members of this group of mammals have died.
A frequent phenomenon in the region
Farewell Spit is a 26-kilometer-long spit of sand jutting out into the Golden Bay. It has been the scene of around ten cases of group strandings of pilot whales over the past 15 years. In February 2017, nearly 700 of these mammals had stranded at Farewell Spit, including 250 that had perished. There is no certain scientific explanation for this phenomenon.
There are hypotheses about disease, navigation errors, the presence of predators, extreme weather conditions or problems related to the topography of certain places. But others implicate human activity, and in particular disturbances generated by high-frequency sonars.
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