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Volunteers Attempt To Save Dozens Of Stranded Pilot Whales Close To New Zealand’s South Island

By Jack Saddler

Volunteers Attempt To Save Dozens Of Stranded Pilot Whales Close To New Zealand’s South Island

Around 50 pilot whales are said to have been stranded in shallow water.

Over 150 volunteers have rushed out to the waters off Farewell Spit in an attempt to save dozens of stranded pilot whales. [Featured Image: Yujue Chen, Shutterstock*].

Around 50 whales have been stranded and unfortunately, 26 have already died. Volunteers have been working tirelessly in a bid to ensure the remaining whales are led to safety.

New Zealand’s department of conversation initially sent out a team of 65 people in response to the strandings, which included many volunteers from marine conservation group Project Jonah.

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Louisa Hawkes, a spokesperson for whale group Project Jonah said volunteers helped whales keep cool during the day by ensuring they were regularly drenched in buckets of water and keeping the upright to relieve pressure on their fins.

Nine whales were thought to have lost their lives before the volunteers could help, and a further 17 were believed to have added to this toll after volunteers had helped refloat whales in the high tide. A human chain was used to guide them out into deeper water.
Volunteers are now preparing for the possibility of another stranding when the tides come back in. Farewell Spit is a spot where whales and dolphins are often sighted by South Island. This is the first mass stranding at this location since February 2017, where up to 700 whales were caught in the shallow waters, leading to 250 estimated deaths.
Thankfully, the toll isn’t as high in this instance, but volunteers and researchers will be keen to keep the number as low as possible over the coming days.
*Featured image does not depict stranded whales described in this article.