Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Stranding in Golden Bay

Farewell Spit - photo: Brian Robinson
Farewell Spit strikes again.
Last Friday, this marine mammal deathtrap caught 25 long-finned pilot whales, close to Triangle Flat in Nelson's Golden Bay. This followed the refloating of a single stranded pilot whale on Friday.
The 25 whales that beached on Friday afternoon were part of a pod of 70, seen swimming close to the beach that day. Seven whales died overnight Saturday, while cool overnight conditions worked in the surviving whales' favour. They suffer during daylight - if it's sunny they get sunburnt - so the whales had the best possible conditions for spending the night on the beach.
The remaining 18 were refloated on Saturday morning's high tide, and encouraged to swim away from the beach, but they were lethargic. In their disoriented state they could have easily restranded, so Dept.of Conservation staff and locals kept a close watch on the coast.
(You may recall last November, 47 pilot whales died and 18 were euthanised after they stranded on tidal flats about 3km offshore at the tip of Farewell Spit, marking the start of the stranding season.)
As of yesterday morning, there was no sign of the pod returning... with one tv channel hailing it a "triumphant mass whale rescue".

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