Oct 12, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Nearly 500 whales die in New Zealand mass strandings

beached whales new zealand

Beached whales on the Chatham Islands in New Zealand. Photo: Department of Conservation (NZ)

Two mass whale strandings in New Zealand last week have led to the death of nearly 500 pilot whales, the country's Department of Conservation (DOC) announced on Wednesday.

Driving the news: The whales were stranded on two beaches on New Zealand's remote Chatham Islands. The first group of 232 pilot whales came ashore on Friday, followed by a second group of 245 whales on Monday, according to a Facebook post by the nonprofit Project Jonah New Zealand, which rescues marine mammals.

  • While some of the whales were dead on arrival, the others were euthanized to minimize suffering, the DOC said in its press release.
  • "We do not actively refloat whales on the Chatham Islands due to the risk of shark attack to humans and the whales themselves, so euthanasia was the kindest option," Dave Lundquist, a technical adviser marine for the DOC, said in the press release.

The big picture: "This is one of the larger events for mass strandings in New Zealand. While we experience large mass strandings at Farewell Spit, these events average 70-80 whales," Project Jonah said in its post.

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