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125 whales dead in New Zealand strandings

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, December 27, 2009 20:48 EDT
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More than 125 whales have died in two separate strandings in New Zealand, conservation officials said Monday.

At Farewell Spit, west of the South Island tourist town of Nelson, 105 long-finned pilot whales died in a mass beaching on Saturday, while 21 pilot whales died Sunday at a beach on the east coast of the North Island.

Both areas have a history of whale strandings.

Conservation department official Hans Stoffregen said none of the stranded pod at Farewell Spit could be saved, the Nelson Mail newspaper reported.

“They were in bad shape. By the time we got there two-thirds of them had already died. We had to euthanise the rest,” he said.

“It was horrible but nothing could have been done to save them. It was the most humane thing to do.”

The whales had been out of the water for a long time “and they were very distressed. You could see the pain and suffering in their eyes.”

Another dead whale was found washed up at a nearby beach on Monday and Stoffregen said there could be others that died in the area but had not yet been located.

On the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island, 21 whales died from a pod of 63 who became stranded on Sunday.

Local volunteers and holidaymakers were able to herd the surviving 42 whales back to sea.

“Last they were seen they were swimming healthily out to the ocean,” regional conservation spokeswoman Lyn Williams said.

One of the cows even gave birth to a calf almost immediately after being refloated, she said.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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