Volunteers in New Zealand managed to refloat about 100 surviving pilot whales on Saturday and are hoping they will swim back out to sea after more than 400 of the creatures swam aground at a remote beach.
Andrew Lamason, the manager of the Department of Conservation Golden Bay Operation confirmed that the rest 300 whales died while the surviving which swam in the bay near the beach have already joined up with a new pod of pilot whales, reports Yahoo News.
A total of 416 whales were stranded and most of them were found dead already. These stranded whales were found early Friday on Farewell Spit at South Island’s tip.
The volunteered rescuers were able to refloat several dozens of whales on the same Friday and the other beaches themselves again overnight. During the morning high tide, the Saturday rescue was more appealing and promising.
Mr. Lamason said, “Fingers crossed, the new whales are going to lead them out into deeper water. Though, there is a chance that some might come back onto the beach.”
Mr. Lamason also added that improved weather and crystal clear water made it easy for the latest rescue attempt. He further confirmed that the rescuers managed to refloat back all the surviving whales, and a human chain was formed in the water by about 100 volunteers to prevent the rescued whales form beaching back.
The volunteers were told to be aware of stingrays and Sharks. This was after one of the dead whales appeared to have consistent shark bite marks, though there had been no shark sighting in the beaches.
Since the rescue effort is now paused, the officials are now diverting their attentions to the grim task of disposing the dead whales.
According to Lamason, tethering the carcasses to stakes or a boat in the shallow tidal water and letting them to compose should be considered to be one the best dispersal option. But if towed out to sea or if they are left in the beaches, they could be smelly and buoyant hence ending up causing problems by floating into populated bays, and this is the biggest problem which should be avoided.
Farewell Spit, which is a silver of sand arching like a hook into the Tasman Sea, has been known to be the previous mass stranding site.
Mostly, whales find it difficult to navigate their ways back once they get close to the spit’s long coastline, hence described as a whale trap.
There exist some different theories that explain the reasons as to why whales trap themselves. Starting from chasing their prey too far inshore in an attempt of protecting a sick group member or when they are escaping from a predator.
New Zealand is known to be one of the nations with the highest rates of whales stranding worldwide. And the last Friday’s event marks the third-biggest event recorded in the nation’s history, with the largest whale strand taking place in 1918 when a total of 1000 pilot whales were discovered ashore on Chatham Islands while the second event took place in 1985 when approximately 450 whales got stranded in Auckland.