Pilot Whales Found Dead or Dying on Remote Beach in New Zealand

More Than 140 Whales Die After Mass Stranding in New Zealand

Nearly 30 whales stranded on remote Victorian beach

New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DoC) has released daunting footage showing dozens of pilot whales sprawled helplessly across a serene sandy beach in Mason Bay on the west coast of Stewart Island, NZ, with no help in sight.

Also on the weekend, almost 150 pilot whales stranded on Stewart Island.

Long-finned pilot whales are the most common pilot whale species in the waters around New Zealand, according to the DOC.

Mr Turner said the whales would probably be euthanised if their condition had not improved.

The humpback whale is thought to have died well before the rest in a separate incident.

As the beaching was a natural occurrence, the whale carcasses would be left where they are to decompose, the spokeswoman said.

Short-finned (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and long-finned pilot whales look nearly identical when seen in the wild, but the two species differ in fin length, tooth count and skull shape. A popular hypothesis suggests that the whales' echolocation, which they use to find their prey, loses its effectiveness in shallower coastal waters, and the whales beach themselves inadvertently as they struggle to find their way back to sea.

People have been advised not to swim in the area due to heightened risk of sharks and signs will be placed at entry points along the beach warning visitors and locals of the carcasses.

Two whales died before they could be rescued, two more rebeached themselves, but it was a more tragic story for 145 pilot whales at the other end of the country. Department official Ren Leppens said that half of the animals were already dead when they were found.

The shooting of the remaining whales was prompted by the remote situation of the island as well as the lack of adequate personel as well as the deteriorating heaslth of the whales. "More than one factor may contribute to a stranding".

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