New Zealand's Struggle To Save Beached Whales Ends With Mixed Results

By Meera Dolasia on January 25, 2012

Word Search

On Monday, January 23rd, a pilot flying over New Zealand saw what is unfortunately starting to become a common sight - A large pod of stranded whales struggling to survive, at the base of Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, located in the country's South Island. Since then, over two hundred volunteers have been working day and night, to keep the mammals warm, and help them refloat. The saga finally ended on Wednesday morning, with mixed results.

The first lucky break came on Tuesday, when the volunteers managed to refloat 17 from the pod of about 99 that were stranded. However, the victory was bittersweet, since 42 of the gorgeous mammals perished at the same time.

And, while as of last night the last remaining batch of about 40 still remained in fairly good condition, the experts at the Department of Conservation were not very optimistic. That's because though they had tried to refloat the whales four times, the mammals had not seemed very motivated to leave - They would float for a few hundred meters and then, just lay there. Scientists believe that its probably because Pilot whales are a close knit community and do not move unless, there is consensus amongst the group.

Meanwhile, volunteers frantically tried to keep them cool and wet through the night in the hope that they would decide to refloat when the high tide returned. They finally had some success this morning. While they lost 7 more whales, 33 did decide to leave and so far, look as though they are motivated to get going. While relieved, experts are still a little worried that one or more may return and are planning to monitor the beach 24 hours a day, for the rest of this week.

Scientists are not sure what causes this mass beaching of whales and why this particular area is so susceptible. They suspect that it may have to do with Farewell Spit's shallow waters that seems to confuse the whales and diminish their ability to navigate. 

Having said that, this year seems to be particularly bad - In November 2011, a pod of 60 whales became beached in the same area, 47 of which, never made it back to sea. Earlier this month 25 from a pod of 70 became stranded just 2 kilometers from where the most recent incident took place - Only 18 escaped alive!

The extremely social Pilot whale is a member of the dolphin family and second in size only, to the killer whale. They are as smart as bottlenose dolphins and just as easy, to train. However, they seem to be highly prone to being stranded, a trait that scientists believe may have something to do with their social structure.  We sure hope researchers somehow find a solution to this, since we really cannot afford to lose so many of these gorgeous creatures.

Resources: BBC.co.uk, channel6online.com,nzherald.co.nz

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TwitterShare on tumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on PinterestShare on RedditShare on Edmodo
621 Comments
to use your custom avatar.
  • kiki2/26/2014
    i love animals i cant even look at the third picture
    • ravin1/29/2014
      thats sad
      • sarah4002
        sarah40021/23/2014
        awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        • jacksonk
          jacksonk1/10/2014
          no way to cool
          • Cristal1/6/2014
            Have you find any mermaid beteween de whales?
            • alyssa14
              alyssa1412/12/2013
              The whale are so cutttttte
              • Letty6/6/2013
                God bless all of the people who took the time to help these beautiful creatures that are on the verge of dying. I wish that more people with resources come to help out save more whales.
                • W.I.N4/4/2013
                  I hope that they are OK I care for all animals.
                  • james3/7/2013
                    I have a text to text connection whale before.
                    • Jr3/7/2013
                      I have a text to text connection that I seen 3 wales before

                      Vocabulary

                      beachedbittersweetconsensusdiminishmotivatedoptimisticperishedpronesusceptibletrait

                      Geography

                      Most Popular Articles

                      Think Fairies Are Real? So Does This Professor
                      Message In A Bottle Gets Delivered After 101 Years!
                      Ever Wonder Why Zebras Have Stripes?
                      Get Ready For The First Total Lunar Eclipse Of 2014
                      Surprise! Giant Pandas Love Sweets Too!
                      Is The Five-Second Rule Valid? Depends On Who You Ask!
                      Think Fairies Are Real? So Does This Professor
                      Smile, It's The International Day Of Happiness!
                      Minecraft As A Mandatory Subject In School? Sweet!
                      Boo Mania Sweeps Over America (And The World)!
                      Are You Ready To 'Gangnam Style'?
                      Video Of The Week - World's Youngest Successful Singer!

                      Latest Comments

                      ian21tang
                      ian21tang wrote:

                      Let me throw a bottle with a not...
                      Message In A Bottle Gets Deliver...

                      Buzzypoo441 wrote:

                      Awesome! It's so sweet!
                      Max's Wheels

                      Buzzypoo441 wrote:

                      Adorable! I love pandas. It's un...
                      Surprise! Giant Pandas Love Swee...

                      ALA