Mass stranding is a common phenomenon among whales and dolphins, however, the reason is not known
More than 100 pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins died after beaching themselves on the remote Chatham Islands off New Zealand’s east coast on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, rescue workers tried to help the whales and dolphins by trying to push them back into the ocean, but the remote location of the island hindered rescue efforts.
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) said a total of 97 pilot whales and three dolphins lost their lives after stranding themselves on the beach, adding that they learned about the incident on Sunday.
“Only 26 of the whales were still alive at this point, the majority of them appearing very weak, and were euthanised due to the rough sea conditions and almost certainty of there being great white sharks in the water which are brought in by a stranding like this,” said DOC Biodiversity Ranger Jemma Welch.
It is common for whales and dolphins to beach themselves on the Chatham Islands. In 1918, up to one thousand whales died in a similar manner.
Mass whale strandings are not unknown and have occurred throughout recorded modern history. Marine biologists, however, are uncertain about the reason behind this behaviour.