Saturday, August 21, 2010

Another Karikari Stranding

Where is Karikari Beach?Most of a pod of 63 pilot whales that stranded on remote Karikari Beach near Kaitaia in Northland have died. They beached on Thursday night but were only discovered mid-morning Friday.
Heavy rain and wind meant no danger of the whales drying out, but it made conditions hard for rescuers. Weighing up to 1500kg each, it takes at least five people to work with each animal. The whales need to be positioned facing out to sea and held there for at least half an hour to allow them to re-orient themselves, before being released. The rough seas made this task very difficult for the trained volunteers from Project Jonah and Far North Whale Rescue.
Tough weather, tough jobDOC decided to transport the 13 remaining whales across 1km of road and refloat them in nearby Matai Bay, where sea conditions were more favourable. This technique has been used successfully in the past - and over longer distances, and it wasn't necessary to tranquilise the whales, as they were already in quite a docile state.
moving the whales from Karikari BeachBut just nine survived: one tried to strand itself on rocks, one rebeached and two others kept swimming upside down and in circles, so the tough decision was made to euthanise them.
Since 1840, NZ has recorded over 5000 whale strandings - more than most other parts of the world - and most commonly, they are long-finned pilot whales.
Karikari Beach was the scene of another mass stranding back in 1997, when 101 pilot whales died.

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