Newstalk
Newstalk

15.59 30 Nov 2018


Share this article


Fifty-one pilot whales have died after becoming stranded on a remote island in New Zealand.

It comes less than a week after 145 of the whales died in similar but seemingly unrelated circumstances in the country.

This latest incident saw up to 90 of the mammals beaching themselves at Hanson Bay in the Chatham Islands, over 800km east of the mainland.

By the time conservationists arrived, 40 had managed to free themselves.

However, another 50 had died and one, who was found alive, had to be euthanized due to its condition.

New Zealand Department of Conservation workers clear dead pilot whales in the Chatham Islands, 30-11-2018. Image: New Zealand Department of Conservation

Stewart Island stranding

Last week’s incident happened on Stewart Island – a small island off the south of the country’s South Island.

Some 85% of the island is a protected nature reserve. When a hiker came upon the 145 beached whales, they were half buried in the sand and around half of them were already dead.

The rest were in very poor condition and had to be euthanised as their remote location would have made it impossible for rescuers to reach them in time.

On Sunday meanwhile, 10 pygmy killer whales were found stranded at Ninety Mile Beach on the North Island.

Some 200 volunteers managed to refloat eight of them – however they stranded themselves a second time on Wednesday and had to euthanised.

Beached

Marine expert Dr Dave Lundquist said there is no evidence confirms the incidents are linked.

"You're talking about strandings across the entire breadth of New Zealand in a very short period of time, which naturally does cause everyone to reflect on whether those might have something to do with one another," he said.

He said scientists there is no scientific consensus on what causes whale strandings to occur – noting that there are probably a range of reasons.

New Zealand Department of Conservation workers clear dead pilot whales in the Chatham Islands, 30-11-2018. Image: New Zealand Department of Conservation

He said they could be caused by whales navigating incorrectly, trying to escape from predators, or some of them suffering injuries or illness.

He said there could also be man-made factors like underwater noise.

"In many of those cases, it's probably a combination of those factors," he said.

Whale strandings are most common in New Zealand during the southern hemisphere spring and summer.


Share this article


Most Popular

Live: Title

Now playing

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share


Up next

Episode title
Show
Duration

You currently have no podcasts in your queue.

Go to podcasts

On Air

BOBBY'S LATE BREAKFAST

BOBBY'S LATE BREAKFAST

09:00-11:00

Share

Up next

ON THE RECORD

ON THE RECORD

11:00-13:00

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

13:00-18:00

Share

TECH TALK

TECH TALK

18:00-19:00

Share

TALKING HISTORY

TALKING HISTORY

19:00-20:00

Share

TALKING BOOKS

TALKING BOOKS

20:00-21:00

Share

UNDER THE COVERS

UNDER THE COVERS

21:00-22:00

Share

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

22:00-00:00

Share

BEST OF NEWSTALK

BEST OF NEWSTALK

00:00-06:00

Share

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

06:00-06:30

Share

BEST OF BREAKFAST BUSINESS

BEST OF BREAKFAST BUSINESS

06:30-07:00

Share

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

07:00-09:00

Share

BEST OF THE PAT KENNY SHOW

BEST OF THE PAT KENNY SHOW

09:00-12:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on