Over the past several days, more than 650 pilot whales have beached themselves along the tip of South Island in New Zealand. Only 200 of them were able to refloat at high tide.
— CNN (@CNN) February 11, 2017
Roughly 350 of the whales have died, while the others were able to return to sea with the help of many volunteers from farmers to tourists in the area.
“People seem to have an emotional attachment to marine mammals,” said Department of Conservation spokesman Herb Christophers.
This event was the third largest whale stranding in history. Whale stranding is quite common in this area around this time of year, but the recent numbers are shocking. And these beachings may not be over.
“We want to try and determine if there’s an underlying reason why such a large number of whales stranded and died in such a short space of time,” veterinary pathologist Dr. Stuart Hunter told the New Zealand Herald. “It’s not unusual for pilot whales to strand en masse, but this stranding is unusual due to the sheer number of whales involved and in such a small amount of time.”