Over 30 pilot whales died after being breached on a beach in New Zealand, on St Patrick’s Day. At 10 am on Thursday the New Zealand’s Department of Conservation posted on their facebook. It stated that 34 pilot whales were stranded on Farewell Spit with 29 dead. Five of them were still alive.
By 11am they announced that they have managed to push the 5 surviving pilot whales into the ocean during high tide. But by 2:30PM they updated their page letting their followers know that the 5 whales have floated back to the beach. Another whale was stranded a few miles away from the site, at Triangle Flat. At the location another pilot whale was found deceased. The next update was on Saturday the 19th of the month. It stated that yet another whale was found stranded at Farewell Spit. Since the pilot whale was in poor condition, it had to be euthanized. There were also two more dead pilot whales, less than a mile apart from one another. Right now it’s still unclear if these were one of the five pilot whales that were pushed back to the shore.
While this news is sad, it is common in New Zealand. Every year they enjoy months of calmness fallowed by random whale and dolphin strandings. While this happens often, scientists are still unsure why. Some suggest that whales’ and dolphins’ echolocation may not work as well in shallow waters. This can cause confusion and lead the pod into the wrong direction. Others think the dolphin and whale pods strand because of a single leader. They can follow the pod leader and end up beaching themselves. If only there was a way to communicate with them and tell them to go further out.Perhaps in the near future there will be.