Death Toll in Mysterious Mass Pilot Whale Beachings Hits 168


Photo via China Daily

Over the last few months, there's been a spate of mass strandings on a New Zealand island--pilot whales have been mysteriously washing up onshore, baffling scientists and conservationists. The most recent beaching occurred when 28 pilot whales washed up on a remote New Zealand beach. Nine were already dead, and the 19 surviving whales were dying and suffering, and had to be euthanized. The even brought the total of whales to die from stranding to 168 over the last couple months alone. The AP reports:

Twenty-eight pilot whales died or were euthanized by conservation workers after a mass stranding on a remote New Zealand beach, an official said Monday. Wild seas and strong winds made it impossible to mount a rescue for the 19 survivors, he said. Conservation officials were forced to euthanize the animals, or they would have suffered greatly, he said.

This marked the fourth mass stranding to take place in the last few months. 140 pilot whales have been killed this way so far, and 76 managed to be rescued by conservation workers.

While strandings aren't uncommon on these New Zealand islands--a 160 whales died from stranding there in 2003--scientists have nonetheless been unable to explain conclusively why this happens. Large numbers of whales evidently get beached in New Zealand every year as they pass through on their way to breeding grounds in the South Pacific.

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Tags: Animals | Conservation

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