The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
145 Whales Dead After Mass Stranding on New Zealand Beach
As many as 145 pilot whales are dead after beaching themselves on a remote beach in Rakiura, or Stewart Island, in southern New Zealand.
A "heartbreaking decision" was made to put down half of the animals due to their poor condition and the difficult-to-access location, a Department of Conservation (DOC) official said Monday in a media release.
"Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low," DOC Rakiura Operations Manager Ren Leppens said in the media release. "The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales' deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanize."
Two pods stranded at the southern end of Mason Bay, approximately 1.2 miles apart.
Mass pilot whale stranding at Rakiura/Stewart Island www.youtube.com
The whales were discovered on Saturday afternoon by a hiker, The New York Times reported.
Leppens told the Times that the whales might have stranded as early as Friday. He said they "started to get covered in sand" by the time they were found on late Saturday.
Poor weather also meant that experts could not be flown in to assess the situation, so conservation workers had no choice but to euthanize the animals, he added to the newspaper.
This is the country's largest mass stranding event since 250 to 300 pilot whales were found dead last year in Golden Bay.
Marine mammal strandings are a "relatively common occurrence" in New Zealand, the DOC said, adding that it responds to roughly 85 incidents a year, mostly of single animals.
It's not clear why marine mammals such as dolphins and whales strand, but factors can include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, and being chased by a predator or extreme weather, the agency said.
Other strandings occurred on New Zealand shores over the weekend. Ten pygmy killer whales also stranded at 90 Mile Beach on Sunday. Two have since died and re-float attempts will be made Tuesday. A sperm whale beached in Doubtful Bay on Karikari Peninsula in Northland on Friday and died Saturday. Finally, a dead female pygmy sperm whale also washed up at Ohiwa over the weekend.
These events are unlikely to be related, the DOC said.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.
By Joe Vukovich
Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.
By Emily Moran
If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."
By Catherine Davidson
Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.
Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.