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18th Mar 2022

Heartbreaking images as dozens of pilot whales die at infamous beach

Danny Jones

31 pilot whales dead in New Zealand

Terrible news

At least 31 pilot whales are thought to have died after washing up on a notorious New Zealand beach where deaths of the whales and similar species are said to occur regularly.

As confirmed by NZ’s Department of Conservation, a pod of whales was spotted on Thursday in what was just the latest mass stranding to occur at Farewell Spit, a beach on the northernmost tip of New Zealand’s South Island.

However, despite attempts to refloat the beached whales, 31 animals were declared dead on Friday and just five of them have managed to survive the night.

However just hours later, two sadly washed back up onto the shore and had to be euthanised.

Project Jonah, a local organisation that works to protect and rescue marine mammals, informed their followers of the unfortunate news, adding that their teams are still on standby but that no further assistance has been requested while monitoring the remaining whales.

Cetacean stranding and mass beaching events are a sad but natural phenomena.

Rescuer Dave Winterburn told the BBC, “It’s not an uncommon experience here in Golden Bay, given the area’s topography… it’s known as one of the stranding hotspots,” citing Farewell Spit – a 26km hook of sand that protrudes into the sea – as one specific and most frequent site for beaching.

While scientists are still unclear as to why this region is a particular hotbed for strandings, one theory is that the outcrop of sandy landmass creates a shallow seabed in the bay with flats that are just barely covered by the water in relative terms.