74 pilot whales stranded on New Zealand beach

September 22, 2010 08:11


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WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A pod of 74 pilot whales stranded themselves on a remote northern New Zealand beach — the second time in a month that a mass beaching has happened in the region, officials said Wednesday.

Twenty-five of the animals were already dead when officials arrived at Spirits Bay beach, Department of Conservation area manager Jonathan Maxwell said. In addition to the 49 still alive and stuck on the beach, another 50 were spotted just offshore, he said.

"We need as many volunteers as possible, as it will be at least until tomorrow (Thursday) before we can look at refloating them, which means caring for them over the next two days," he said.

Volunteers from Far North Whale Rescue, conservation officials and the local Maori community were preparing to stay at the beach overnight to help keep the whales alive, Maxwell said. They would have to battle a strong swell and high winds in an effort to refloat the animals Thursday.

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