Wellington: There have been two mass strandings of pilot whales in New Zealand’s Chatham Islands in the past two days, according to an organization specializing in the protection and conservation of marine animals.
“Unfortunately, there was a second mass stranding of pilot whales in the Chatham Islands over the weekend, this time on Rangiauria/Pitt Island, about 40km south of the stranding,” Xinhua News Agency quoted Project Jonah New Zealand as saying on Tuesday. .
Reports suggest up to 250 whales in this second stranding event.
A Department of Conservation (DOC) team has been mobilized from the Chatham Islands in response.
The Chatham Islands are a challenging stranding response location, known for great white sharks, remote beaches and a permanent population of less than 800 people.
These factors unfortunately mean that live whales when found are euthanized by DOC, according to Project Jonah New Zealand.
This incident followed a mass pilot whale stranding in the Chatham Islands on Sunday, when 215 whales were involved, many of which had died.
In March this year, at least 31 pilot whales died after a mass stranding on a beach near Farewell Spit in the South Island.
Last year, lifeguards were able to save 28 pilot whales from a group of about 50 that were stranded on the beach, but the rest died.
The worst stranding occurred in February 2017, when almost 700 whales washed ashore, resulting in 250 deaths.
At least 11 pilot whales have been sighted in the area over the past 15 years.