Mass stranding has left nearly 100 whales dead on the remote Chatham Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) first reported at 12.30 pm on Sunday that a total of 97 pilot whales and three dolphins died in the stranding.
Reportedly, when the officials arrived at the scene at Waitangi West Beach on Chatham Island nearly three hours later, just over a quarter of the stranded whales were still alive, but very weak to survive.
DOC Biodiversity Ranger, Jemma Welch, said: “Only 26 of the whales were still alive at this point, the majority of them appeared very weak, and were euthanized 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.”
Later, a ceremony was held to honour the spirit of the dead whales, which are left to decompose naturally.
Mass stranding or cetacean stranding, commonly known as beaching, is a phenomenon in which whales and dolphins strand themselves on land, usually on a beach.
The stranded whales on the beach often die due to dehydration, collapsing under their own weight, or drowning when high tide covers the blowhole.