Friday, 10 February 2017

Whale strandings in NZ

Sadly, hundreds of whales have died overnight on a New Zealand beach after a mass stranding thought to be the largest in decades.   The Department of Conservation (DOC) discovered 416 pilot whales had beached themselves at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay at the top of the South Island, with more than 70% perishing by the time dawn broke on Friday.  DOC staff and dozens of volunteers were on hand this morning trying to save the remaining 100 whales.

Peter Wiles, who was one of the first volunteers to reach Farewell Spit, said “It is one of the saddest things I have seen, that many sentient creatures just wasted on the beach.”

Andrew Lamason, a team leader for the DOC Takaka area, said the stranding was the largest in living memory, and although he had “no clue” why the whales had beached themselves this time, Golden Bay was conducive to strandings because of its shallow bay, which made it difficult for whales to swim out once they’d entered.

At high tide, at 10.30am, the 100 remaining whales were successfully refloated, but early in the afternoon at low tide 90 of them re-beached themselves. DOC staff and up to 500 volunteers are now focused on keeping the surviving whales as healthy as possible until the next high tide at lunchtime tomorrow.

The stranding at Farewell Spit makes it the third largest whale stranding in New Zealand’s recorded history.

In 1918, 1,000 whales beached themselves on the Chatham Islands, and in 1985 450 stranded at Great Barrier Island off the coast of Auckland.   New Zealand has one of the highest rates of whale strandings in the world, and since 1840, more than 5,000 whales and dolphins have beached themselves on New Zealand shores according to DOC records.


  1. Something of a mystery. If similar standings happened already in 1918, I don't know how much truth is in the theories about whales stranding because of modern technology such as ships and underseas construction works emitting soundwaves that confuse their sense of navigation. They weren't around back then - at least not in that measure, and with today's technology.

    1. For once I don't think this has anything to do with human activity - the nature of the coastline and shallowness of the waters appear to be the major factors. Added to which the pod tends to follow 'leaders' and if they go wrong the rest follow. That's why the 100 swam back yesterday because the main part of the pod was still onshore (though dead) and they were re-uniting themselves with it.

  2. So sad when this happens. My belief is that the Creator cares for these creatures as for us and i will be praying the rest survive and get back out into open water.

  3. Oh, very sad to think of those wonderful creatures stranded. And hundreds of them - absolutely terrible.

  4. When I was living in New Zealand whale strandings seemed to be in the news all the time. Of course they weren't but they are such a sad phenomena that they stick in the consciousness more than many things.

  5. No mystery. Has something to do with the collapse of the world. They are prescient and see it coming.

  6. Sad and mysterious. Quakes somewhere offshore?? But I suppose nowadays that would register somewhere...

  7. Wow! That is incredibly sad. They are such beautiful creatures.


Hello - thanks for dropping by to leave a comment. Your comments are much appreciated even if I don't always reply. They will appear as soon as they have been moderated.

Blog Archive