Crowds rush to save whales stranded on New Zealand beach

Marine conservation group Project Jonah said a pod of whales stranded overnight at the beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in North Island and about 1,000 people rushed to help save them, hampering efforts by conservation workers. Seven of the short-fi
Marine conservation group Project Jonah said a pod of whales stranded overnight at the beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in North Island and about 1,000 people rushed to help save them, hampering efforts by conservation workers. Seven of the short-finned pilot whales were later refloated during the afternoon high tide and four dead ones were buried.PHOTO: PROJECTJONAH/TWITTER

WELLINGTON • About 1,000 people rushed to a New Zealand beach yesterday to try to save a pod of whales which stranded overnight, overwhelming conservation workers who were appealing for specialist assistance.

"It's awesome to help stranded pilot whales and see them swim off," said Mr Adam Eynon-Richards, one of the beach-goers.

Four of the short-finned pilot whales had died and the surviving seven were later refloated at the beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in North Islandand.

  • 7

    Number of whales refloated during high tide and shepherded to deeper waters by several boats.

"Seven surviving (short-finned) pilot whales have been shepherded out of Matarangi Harbour. Our staff are burying four dead whales," the department of conservation tweeted.

"This is an overwhelming response and we ask that, unless you are a trained medic, you do not visit the stranding."

Short-finned pilot whales are closely related to the long-finned pilot whales regularly involved in mass strandings in New Zealand waters.

Two years ago, more than 330 pilot whales died in two strandings at Farewell Spit at the top of New Zealand's South Island.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 05, 2020, with the headline 'Crowds rush to save whales stranded on New Zealand beach'. Print Edition | Subscribe