Featured Image Credit: Reuters
Just last week, New Zealand was struck with a devastating mass stranding in South Island. The nation was rocked and a record was severely and sadly broken. Over 400 pilot whales were beached on Friday alone and over 500 volunteers poured into the remote strip of Farewell Spit to do damage control.
Watch the volunteers form a powerful human chain to prevent further pilot whale beachings. The video is truly moving. We are so appreciative of the rescue efforts provided during the historical tragedy.
Video by JerusalemOnline
Jerusalem Online reported, “Hundreds of volunteers entered the shallow waters and joined hands in order to form a massive human chain in an attempt to prevent additional whales from washing ashore. Meanwhile, the efforts to return the stranded whales continue.” With only one high tide per day, time was crucial, and the volunteers had to take action and refloat as many whales as possible.
Sadly, the cetacean carnage continued over the weekend with another pod over 200 whales getting swallowed up into the shallows. As of Saturday, along the 3 mile stretch of South Island coastline, 335 whales were dead, 220 whales were still stranded, and 100 had been successfully released back to sea.
That’s a total of 650 pilot whales.
Andrew Lamason is an Operations Manager at the Department of Conservation Golden Bay, and he commented that “improved weather and crystal clear water helped with the following rescue attempt after a frustrating effort on Friday.” The next daunting… and disgusting… task will be to dispose of the hundreds of whale carcasses. This will not be an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination considering Pilot whales can be up to 25 feet long.
According to Lamason, one option would be to ” tether the carcasses to stakes or a boat in the shallow tidal waters and let them decompose. The problem with towing them out to sea or leaving them is that they could become gaseous and buoyant, and end up causing problems by floating into populated bays.”
New Zealand is no stranger to mass strandings and this epic event ranks as the third largest in the nation’s history. The slim formation of Farewell spit and the way that it curls into the Tasman Sea is somewhat of a trap that makes navigation near impossible.