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.