Pilot Whales Refloated After Hundreds Stranded on New Zealand Beach

More than 200 whales swim away after New Zealand stranding

More than 200 whales swim away after New Zealand stranding

The latest pod that got stranded late on Saturday are different from the group of 400 that was stranded on Thursday night at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay.

"This is good news", it said in a statement this morning after more than 700 whales stranded in the area over the weekend and hundreds of volunteers pitched in to a huge relief effort to save them.

More than 650 pilot whales had beached themselves along Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island in two separate mass strandings over recent days.

More than 400 pilot whales swam aground and became stranded on Golden Bay's Farewell Spit Thursday, sparking a massive rescue operation.

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The cause of the strandings was not known but experts believe whales that often become beached would send out distressing signals to other members of their pod, who would then get stranded by a receding tide. "They've been singing songs to them, giving them specific names, treating them as kindred spirits".

"People seem to have an emotional attachment to marine mammals", Department of Conservation spokesman Herb Christophers told The Associated Press.

Described by Project Jonah, a New Zealand animal rights NGO, as "one of the worst [strandings] in NZ history", some 416 whales washed up on the shore earlier this week, the majority of which perished despite help from hundreds of volunteers. In 1985, about 450 whales stranded in Auckland. The animals can reach up to 60 years old.

In this case, it might have also been simply the wrong place at the wrong time for the unfortunate animals, with experts noting that Farewell Spit is a particularly hard place for whales to navigate, as the sand banks reflect sonar poorly.

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To avoid exploding whales, conservation officials wearing protective clothing began the tedious process Monday of cutting holes in 300 whale carcasses, Reuters reported.

The agency is now trying to figure out what to do with the carcasses of the dead whales.

The dead whales on Farewell Spit were moved with a digger on Monday and taken to dunes on a nature reserve that is not open to the public.

The bodies could take up to several months to decompose and turn into skeletons.

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