Fifty-one pilot whales die in another mass stranding in New Zealand

Department of Consevation Over 80 pilot whales were stranded off the coast of the Chatham Islands in New Zealand Nov. 30 2018

Department of Consevation Over 80 pilot whales were stranded off the coast of the Chatham Islands in New Zealand Nov. 30 2018

Less than a week after 145 pilot whales died in a mass stranding in New Zealand, another 51 have lost their lives in similar but seemingly unrelated circumstances.

The stranding comes only days after 145 pilot whales died on the shore of Stewart Island on Monday.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said it was notified on Thursday evening of about 80 to 90 pilot whales stranded at Hanson Bay, near Owenga.

More than 50 pilot whales have perished in another mass stranding in New Zealand, taking the death toll of beached marine mammals to over 200 in the past week, wildlife authorities said on Friday.

Department of Consevation Over 80 pilot whales were stranded off the coast of the Chatham Islands in New Zealand Nov. 30 2018
Department of Consevation Over 80 pilot whales were stranded off the coast of the Chatham Islands in New Zealand Nov. 30 2018

Dead pilot whales are seen at the coast of Chatham Island, New Zealand, Nov. 30, 2018, in this handout picture provided by the Department of Conservation New Zealand.

When conservationists arrived, they found up to 40 had refloated on their own but another 50 died on the beach. "It was the most humane thing to do".

"This is always an terrible decision to have to make".

The reason whales and dolphins strand is not fully understood but theories include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, the presence of predators, and extreme weather. The department says one beached whale remained alive, which they made a decision to euthanize due to its poor condition.

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The largest recorded whale stranding in New Zealand was in 1918 on the Chatham Islands, when almost 1,000 pilot whales came ashore, according to The Guardian.

Ten pygmy killer whales were also stranded on 90 Mile Beach in Northland on Sunday.

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

Stockin said New Zealand was now experiencing some of the warmest ocean temperatures on record and she believed it was affecting whale behaviour.

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'I suspect a lot of that has been driven by the warmer sea surface temperatures that we're seeing at the moment.

"We definitely have a spike in temperatures, that's likely affecting where the prey is moving and as a outcome we're seeing prey moving and (whale) species following".

Stockin said New Zealand was now experiencing some of the warmest ocean temperatures on record and she believed it was affecting whale behaviour. More than one factor might contribute to a stranding.

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