Friday, January 27, 2012

99 whales stranded in New Zealand

Four day rescue effort has to be called off as weather worsens
January 2012: Ninety-nine pilot whales have stranded at New Zealand's Golden Bay - prompting a massive and prolonged rescue operation. However despite concerted efforts over a four-day period, the whales repeatedly restranded - and sadly those that remained beached will now be euthanized.
The whales originally came to shore at 11am on Monday, January 23, and Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and an army of volunteers cared for the whales during the afternoon, covering them in wet sheets to keep them as comfortable as possible. The whales were left at nightfall with the hope that they would refloat themselves on the 10.45pm high tide.
An inspection the next day revealed that 40 live whales remained stranded on the Farewell Spit beach. Seventeen had refloated themselves overnight and were swimming in a south-easterly direction.
The remaining 40 stranded whales were then refloated at 11am on Tuesday, but after milling around 200 metres offshore they failed to refloat themselves on the high tide and became restranded. Rescuers have once again painstakingly cared for the whales. But despite the best efforts the whales failed once again to refloat on Wednesday's high tide - and only 25 whales survived by this state.
An inspection at first light on Thursday morning revealed that the pilot whales refloated the previous day had restranded themselves. The pod has stranded even further to the east than before making the chances of a successful refloat even more unlikely.
The whales had now been ashore for five high tides and have been twice refloated with the assistance of DOC staff and volunteers.
With the whales in noticeably poor condition and with a gale warning in force, an assisted refloat would not be possible, forcing the decision to euthanize all surviving whales.

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