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April 25, 2019

More than 145 whales found dead after becoming stranded on New Zealand shore

November 27, 2018
Pilot whales lie beached at Mason Bay, Rakiura on Stewart Island, New Zealand. As many as 145 pilot whales have died after the mass stranding which was discovered by a hiker on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (.(NZ Department of Conservation via AP Photo))

A hiker walking along a remote New Zealand beach came across piles of dead pilot whales stranded along the shore.

Some 145 whales were found dead Saturday on Stewart Island beach, an isolated area in New Zealand also known as Rakiura.

Most of the whales were dead when they were found while others were euthanized to prevent the mammals from suffering.

“Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low. The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanize,” a statement from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) said.

Mammal strandings are common in New Zealand with officials responding to an average of 85 incidents a year. However, incidents typically entail a single animal rather than groups.

On Sunday, 10 pygmy killer whales were found at 90 Mile Beach, just along the western coast of New Zealand.

Two of the whales died and others have been moved to Rarawa beach until they are able to re-float.

“Exactly why whales and dolphins strand is not fully known but factors can include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, being chased by a predator, or extreme weather. More than one factor may contribute to a stranding,” DOC said in a statement.

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