‘Save the Whales!’
It is more than just a slogan in New Zealand where desperate rescue efforts are underway after almost 200 pilot whales got stranded.
Volunteers have rushed to help the stricken creatures found at Farewell Spit on the northwest tip of South Island – in what is said to be the biggest whale beaching there in over a decade.
“Radio New Zealand”: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/266073/dozens-of-whales-killed-in-stranding is reporting that three quarters of them have been refloated but have still to swim out to deeper water after getting stuck on sand.
Dozens of others have died.
Tataka Department Conservation Ranger, Mike Ogle, said: “Because there’s just so many whales, there are a couple of spots where a lot would gather together and that’s kind of problematic from the aspect that you can’t get in there, it’s just too dangerous.”
Mass beachings like this are fairly common worldwide for reasons ranging from sickness to disorientation due to manmade elements like sonars.
The whales’ close-knit social structure does nothing to help rescuers. Pilot whales are a social, deep-water species. They live in pods of 20 to 90 whales and typically will not leave ailing or dead members behind.
The bonds are so strong that dead whales often have to be cleared from beaches before others swimming in shallow waters can be guided out to sea.