Wildlife

More Whales Stand in New Zealand

The mass stranding of whales on a remote beach in New Zealand has taken a turn for the worse as 240 more arrived. Earlier on Saturday, volunteers had refloated some 100 of the more than 400 pilot whales which beached on Thursday. But a human chain, with volunteers wading neck-deep into the water, failed to prevent a fresh pod making landfall.

The whale stranding, at Farewell Spit at the top of South Island, is one of the worst ever in New Zealand. Dozens of volunteers turned out to help. More than 300 of the 400 original arrivals died while medics and members of the public tried to keep survivors alive by cooling them with water.

It is not clear why the whales continue to arrive on the 5km-long (three mile-long) beach next to Golden Bay. One theory is that they may have been driven on to land by sharks, after bite marks were found on one of the dead whales. Sometimes the whales are old and sick, injured, or make navigational errors particularly along gentle sloping beaches. Whales that become beached will send out distress signals attracting other members of their pod, who then also get stranded by a receding tide.

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