Photo by: Biodiversity Ranger Jemma Welch, New Zealand Department of Conservation

The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) reported the tragic news last week that 97 pilot whales and three dolphins died in a mass stranding on a remote Chatham Island beach.

After DOC Biodiversity Ranger Jemma Welch was notified about the stranding at 12:00pm last Sunday, she explained that due to the remote location and a power outage making it difficult to contact people, it was 3:00pm by the time rangers arrived at the scene at Waitangi West Beach.

“Only 26 of the whales were still alive at this point, the majority of them appeared very weak, and were sadly euthanized due to the rough conditions of the sea, and almost certainty because of great white sharks in the water which are brought in by a stranding like this,” Welch said in a statement.

Sadly, two more whales had stranded by Monday morning and had to be euthanized when a team of DOC staff made a follow-up visit to the site.

Hokotehi Moriori Trust and Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust were notified and representatives joined DOC staff on Sunday where they performed a Karakia ceremony to honor the spirit of the whales.

“Bad weather and rough seas, with dirty water, reduced visibility, and sonar effectiveness, could confuse whales and dolphins,” the DOC explains on its website. “Mistakes while chasing prey in shallow waters are thought to be a major cause of strandings for orcas and dolphins. Conversely, large predators such as orcas might cause other marine mammals to panic and strand.”

The largest recorded mass stranding in New Zealand was in 1918 when an estimated 651,000 pilot whales stranded on the Chatham Islands.

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The post Breaking! Mass Stranding In New Zealand Results In The Tragic Loss Of 97 Pilot Whales & 3 Dolphins appeared first on World Animal News.

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