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The day began with grim resolve, as volunteers descended upon a remote New Zealand beach to try to send some 100 beached pilot whales back to sea. By mid-afternoon local time, most of those whales — the survivors of country’s third-largest stranding on record — had successfully swum back into Golden Bay.
It could have been a happy ending to a story that began tragically, with some 300 whales found dead after more than 400 stranded earlier in the week on Farewell Spit, a thin strip of beach that arcs like a bent finger into the waters north of New Zealand’s South Island.
The volunteers’ celebrations did not last long, though.
Another large pod, composed of approximately 200 whales, stranded just hours later near the original site. The members of that second group appear to be different from the original survivors, which had been tagged before being refloated. None of the new whales bore those tags, NBC News reports.
The whales’ deaths are symbolic of humanity’s shocking disregard for marine life.
In January, 29 sperm whales were found stranded on shores around the North Sea, an area that is too shallow for the marine wildlife. Only recently were details of the animals’ necropsy released. However, scientists were deeply disturbed by what they found in the animals’ stomachs.
It’s been a devastating week for the whale population across Northern Europe as 12 whales died on or off the coast of the Dutch island of Texel and the German islands of Wangerooge and Helgoland this week.
Five sperm whales washed up on the shores of Texel on Tuesday night.
Attempts were made to save them but had to be discontinued during the night due to weather conditions which made it impossible to move the giant mammals.
Humpback whales usually arrive in the waters off Hawaii in December. But not this year. Why?