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New Zealand: 500 pilot whales die in mass strandings on remote Chatham Islands


Tons of of pilot whales have died after changing into stranded close to the shark-infested waters of a distant island chain within the South Pacific, in keeping with rescue groups and conservationists.

New Zealand’s Division of Conservation instructed CNN practically 500 whales washed up within the Chatham Islands, 840 kilometers (520 miles) east of the primary South Island, in two separate mass stranding occasions reported by residents over the weekend.

Dave Lundquist, a marine technical adviser for the division, mentioned it doesn’t try to refloat stranded whales within the space as a result of threat of shark assaults to each folks and the whales. The surviving whales have been euthanized to stop additional struggling, he mentioned.

“This determination is rarely taken evenly, however in circumstances like this it’s the kindest choice,” Lundquist mentioned.

Daren Grover, normal supervisor of rescue group Undertaking Jonah, mentioned many of the pilot whales have been already useless once they got here ashore, and the survivors have been ill.

“Having such a excessive variety of whales in a single location is uncommon, however it’s actually not exceptional,” he mentioned.

Along with the danger posed by sharks, it was “nearly unattainable” for rescue groups to journey to the Chatham Islands on brief discover, he mentioned, compounding the problem of saving the whales.

The mass stranding incident comes lower than a month after about 200 pilot whales died on the coast of Tasmania in Australia.

It’s frequent for pilot whales to turn out to be stranded however the conduct will not be nicely understood, in keeping with the Division of Conservation. Most scientists consider that particular person whales strand as a result of they’re diseased and coming to the tip of their pure lifespan.

The Chatham Islands, that are residence to about 600 folks, are among the many prime three “stranding hotspots” in New Zealand. In 1918, the archipelago noticed the most important recorded stranding within the nation of about 1,000 pilot whales, in keeping with the division.

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