Tags: new zealand | whales | beach

New Zealand Whales: Hundreds Swim Away After Beaching

Image: New Zealand Whales: Hundreds Swim Away After Beaching

In this Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, photo, whales are stranded at Farewell Spit near Nelson, New Zealand. (Tim Cuff/New Zealand Herald via AP, File)

By    |   Monday, 13 Feb 2017 09:16 AM

More than 200 New Zealand whales managed to swim away Sunday after beaching themselves along the Farewell Spit at the tip of South Island in two mass strandings this past week.

More than 650 pilot whales beached themselves with about 350 dying and another 100 refloated with the help of volunteers, according to The Associated Press. Some people poured buckets of water on them trying to keep them cool while on land.

New Zealand's Department of Conservation told the New Zealand Herald that it was monitoring the group of whales that were able to return to the water on their own to make sure they didn't get stranded on the beach again.

A department spokeswoman said those whales remained about two kilometers, or a little more than mile, off Pakawau in Golden Bay.

Conservation officials met Monday to determine how to dispose of the whales that died along the shore. Officials said most of the dead whales remain on shore but some had drifted back out into the sea, according to the Herald.

The department had considered fencing off the area and letting the whales biodegrade, but a spokeswoman added that it could take months for the mammals to decompose to skeletons.

The BBC News wrote that experts were not sure why the pilot whales, which are officially members of the dolphin family, beached themselves over the past week. Bite marks found on one of the whales led some to believe that they could have been driven to the area by sharks.

Conservation department spokesman Herb Christophers said, according to the BBC News, that it appeared the whales were trying to get around the top of South Island, but if their navigation was off, they ended up on the beach. The whales' use of echo location becomes impaired in shallower water.

"It's a very difficult place if you get lost in there and you are a whale," Christophers said, according to the BBC News.

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More than 200 New Zealand whales managed to swim away Sunday after beaching themselves along the Farewell Spit at the tip of South Island in two mass strandings this past week.
new zealand, whales, beach
326
2017-16-13
Monday, 13 Feb 2017 09:16 AM
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