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Fresh whale stranding on notorious New Zealand beach

Saturday, February 11, 2017 - 07:26

41479523 - 11_02_2017 - NZEALAND-ANIMAL-WHALES.jpg
Rescue workers are in a race against time to refloat 100 whales stranded on a New Zealand shore a day after a mass beaching left hundreds dead.

[NEW ZEALAND] Rescue workers are in a race against time to refloat 100 whales stranded on a New Zealand shore a day after a mass beaching left hundreds dead.

It was not known if the whales found Saturday were a fresh pod or survivors from Friday's stranding at Farewell Spit in the Golden Bay region at the north-western tip of South Island.

The area, about 150 kilometres west of the tourist town of Nelson, is notorious for whale strandings and has witnessed at least nine mass beachings in the past decade.

"There are 100 live whales on the beach this morning. It is not known at this stage where the whales that were refloated (on Friday) are now," Department of Conservation (DOC) ranger Kathy Inwood said.

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The sun was making it difficult for volunteers to keep the whales cool while they waited for the late morning high tide to get the mammals back into the water.

"We have a bit of a problem today with the hot sun which is not good for the whales. We were lucky yesterday with the cloud," DOC official Andrew Lamason told Fairfax Media.

It would take several hours after the whales were refloated to know if the mission had been successful.

Many of the whales that survived Friday's beaching remained in the bay as darkness fell.

"If you designed something to catch whales then Golden Bay is probably the perfect design," Mr Lamason said.

When the first mass beaching of 416 pilot whales was found on the beach on Friday morning nearly 300 were already dead.

Pilot whales grow up to six metres long and are the most common species of whale in New Zealand waters.

AFP

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