New Zealand isn’t a stranger to beached whales. On a yearly basis, rescuers help refloat many disoriented mammals that will get stuck within the coastal waters or sand during low tide. However, last week’s simultaneous stranding of two pods, totaling over 650 pilot whales, while in the shallow muddy waters of Golden Bay with the northwest tip of South Island is practically unprecedented. Local marine experts voice it out could be the largest known whale stranding since 1985, when 450 in the mammals put together beached in Auckland, additionally, the third largest on record.
The chain of events began last month 9, when locals awoke into the news which more than 400 whales were beached with the base of Farewell Spit, a narrow sand spit on the northern end of Golden Bay. Unfortunately, want rescuers arrived, almost 300 whales had perished. Above 500 volunteers worked tirelessly to help keep the rest of the mammals cool until high-tide. At 3:30 PM local time, the Department of Conservation (DOC) announced that this whales have been successfully nudged into the ocean.
But ahead of the weary volunteers could recover, came more distressing news. Late on Friday, February 10, a different number of almost 200 pilot whales is discovered stranded on the same 5-kilometer stretch of coastline. Andrew Lamason, the Operations Manager on the DOC, says these are confident it had become a brand new pod given that they had tagged the many refloated whales with the first group and not one of the whales inside the new group had tags.
Unfortunately, nothing could possibly be performed on profit the stranded whales in the evening. The mammals get agitated during the night and may also hurt and even kill a person’s with a mere flick within their fin or tail. The whales also carry diseases so volunteers must avoid experience of their blowhole exhalent or fluids, which can be hard to do when visibility is poor.
Early Saturday, many hundreds of locals returned on the beach, bracing for your worst. With their surprise and delight, almost 17 in the stranded whales were gone! DOC spokesman Herb Christophers says we were looking at probably able to “self-rescue” when the tide were only available during the night. The rescuers took care of the rest of the 17 mammals till the tide returned and ensured that they join the pod waiting with regards to a mile offshore. At the time of 1:15 PM local time, the whales got safe in the deeper waters. However, experts always maintain a control to be sure they can’t return.
Meanwhile, DOC officials making the effort to handle the over 300 whale carcasses that lie scattered around the beach. To secrete the gas manufactured by the bacteria inside the whales’ stomachs, marine mammal experts clad in protective gear have begun poking holes from the bodies. This can stop the whales from exploding or drifting over to sea as they decompose. The officials will also be considering creating a fence throughout the area to ensure the whales don’t float into bays and attract sharks down the coastal areas.
Thanks for its unique shape and shallow waters that affects the echolocation of mammals making their way around, whale strandings will not be unusual near Farewell Spit. However, experts are confounded with the unusually large selection from the latest incidents. Christophers speculates than a lost whale’s distress call could have caused the full pod to rush to the rescue. However, DOC ranger Mike Ogle contains a different theory. After noticing some shark bites in one of your whales, he believes they own been trying to escape dangerous prey. The DOC wishes to have some answers by analyzing biopsy samples taken from the dead whales.
Resources: radionz.co.nz, theverge.com, npr.com, the guardian.co.uk, channelnewsasia.com, projectjonah