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400 whales stranded on New Zealand beach

12 February 2017

Rescuers are racing to save hundreds of pilot whales in New Zealand's picturesque Golden Bay on Friday, after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings.

Shocking photos show more than 400 pilot whales stranded on Farewell Spit, on the South Island, in one of the country's worst ever cases.

A lot of them died and rescuers were trying to help surviving ones back into the sea on Saturday.

"Unless they get a couple of strong leaders who decide to head out to sea, the remaining whales will try and keep with their pod on the beach".

A lot of them died but volunteers converged Saturday on the spit, which is a notorious whale trap, to help in the rescue of 100 survivors. About three-quarters of the pilot whales were already dead when they were found Friday morning at Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island.

Hundreds of whales that were stranded on a New Zealand beach could have come onshore because of a shark attack, rescue officials said.

More than 500 volunteers rushed to the beach to help. Fifty successfully made it out to sea, but just five hours later 80 to 90 were re-stranded, reports Ben Westcott for CNN. "We can only find out from large datasets, but if we know that storms are happening and they are connected with strandings, we can make sure we have resources available to respond to any strandings".

Golden Bay is a lethal spot for pilot whales.

New Zealand is known to have the highest rate of whale strandings in the world, according to the marine environmental organization Project Jonah.

New Zealand's Department of Conservation said on Saturday that at least twenty of the re-beached whales will need to be euthanized.

Disposing of the carcasses of whales will also prove to be a challenging task for conservation workers.

"I'm advised there won't be another attempt to re-float the whales on tonight's high tide because it is too risky for people to be close to the whales in the dark".

People wanting to volunteer should check in around 11am to see if the whales have beached. The second-largest was in 1985 on Great Barrier Island where 450 pilot whales were beached. Experts said that the shallow coastline of what's been dubbed as a whale trap appears to confuse whales, affecting their ability to navigate and go back into the sea once they get close.

400 whales stranded on New Zealand beach