Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sometimes, The Job SUCKS

Department of Conservation (DOC) staff yesterday had to put down ten pilot whales which survived a mass stranding of 24 in NZ's isolated Far North Parengarenga Harbour (this is just south of the site of the Spirits Bay stranding, Sept.2010).
This pod was spread over 150m of mud, rocks and mangroves. It's likely they stranded on Thursday, meaning they had been in distress for some time.
The surviving ten were in poor shape. High tide wasn't until 11 that evening and, with deteriorating weather conditions, the chances of successfully refloating the whales was virtually nil, so the difficult decision was made to euthanase them.
Pilot whales travel in family pods and, when one of them gets into trouble, others try to help and become stranded themselves. In the past we've had some large strandings on our shores: in 1998, 328 pilot whales stranded at Doughboy Bay on Stewart Island while in 1918, NZ’s (and the world’s) worst recorded stranding occurred when around 1,000 pilot whales came ashore at Long Beach, Chatham Islands.
Pilot whales are the most common whale species seen in NZ waters and, although they strand all around our coastline, 48% happen in the Northland, Nelson and Chatham Islands regions - these regions all have long gently-sloping beaches which are deceptive and often deadly to whales.

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