2 back-to-back mass whale strandings on NZ’s Chatham Islands

There have been two mass strandings of pilot whales on New Zealand’s Chatham Islands in the past two days, according to an organisation that specialises in the protection and conservation of marine animals.

“Sadly, there has been a second mass stranding of pilot whales on the Chatham Islands, this time on Rangiauria/Pitt Island, about 40 km south from the stranding over the weekend,” Xinhua news agency quoted Project Jonah New Zealand as saying on Tuesday.

Reports suggest up to 250 whales in this second stranding event.

A Department of Conservation (DOC) team is being mobilized from the Chatham Islands in response.

The Chatham Islands are a challenging spot for stranding response, known for great white sharks, remote beaches, and a resident population of fewer than 800 people.

These factors sadly meant the whales alive on discovery were euthanised by the DOC, according to the Project Jonah New Zealand.

This incident followed a mass pilot whale stranding on the Chatham Islands on Sunday when 215 whales were involved, many of which had died.

In March this year, at least 31 pilot whales died after a mass stranding at a beach near Farewell Spit on the South Island.

Last year, rescuers were able to save 28 long-finned pilot whales of a pod of about 50 who had stranded on the beach, but the rest died.

The worst stranding occurred in February 2017, when almost 700 whales beached, resulting in 250 deaths.

The area has seen at least 11 pilot whale strandings in the past 15 years.

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