Willington, More than 600 pilot whales have washed ashore New Zealand's South Island over the past two days. Officials and volunteers are working to return the ones that are still alive back to sea, but many have already died or were euthanized because of their injuries.
On the morning of February 10th, more than 400 pilot whales were discovered on a crescent of land on New Zealand's South Island called Farewell Spit, according to a Department of Conservation news release. Close to 300 of them had already died.
Volunteers with whale-rescue organization Project Jonah and DoC officials managed to send 100 or so whales back to sea on February 11th, only to have 20 wash ashore again. The remaining 80 joined another nearby pod, and appeared to be safe. However, that second pod then stranded itself on Farewell Spit that evening. The New Zealand Department of Conservation sent out a call for more volunteers, warning that it's unlikely that they'll be able to rescue all of the beached whales.
There haven't been enough large scale surveys to know exactly how many pilot whales are swimming in the deep waters around New Zealand. But scientists do know that the van-sized creatures tend to live in matriarchal family groups of 20 to as many as 100 individuals.
Source: Qatar News Agency