Shocking: Hundreds of whales die in mass stranding on New Zealand beach

  • More than 400 pilot whales were stranded on a New Zealand beach
  • Up to 300 whales have died
  • Rescuers are racing against time to save the remaining live whales

Rescuers are racing against time to save hundreds of whales that were stranded on a New Zealand beach Friday morning, February 9.

The spokesman of the Department of Conservation (DoC), Andrew Lamason, said 416 pilot whales washed ashore the at the Farewell Spit on Golden Bay Thursday night, but  the agency decided against a night rescue operation for fear volunteers might get hurt trying to refloat the beached whales.

“So we’ve got black animals, wild animals in the dark, we don’t want people around. We’ve had some pretty major injuries before, broken arms and legs, people knocked unconscious. That’s why we stopped doing it years ago – in the dark, it’s just too dangerous,” the DoC official said.

Up to 300 whales have died and rescuers are trying to get the remaining whales offshore.

According to The Guardian, at high tide, around 10:30 a.m., the remaining 100 whales were successfully refloated but they re-beached themselves during the low-tide early in the afternoon.

Lamason explained that it is common for the whales involved in a mass stranding like this one to re-beach themselves, because being social animals, they would stay in close proximity to their pod.

“We are trying to swim the whales out to sea and guide them but they don’t really take directions, they go where they want to go. Unless they get a couple of strong leaders who decide to head out to sea, the remaining whales will try and keep with their pod on the beach,” he said.