50 whales die after stranding in New Zealand

Video: Over 60 whales were involved in the beachings

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The Independent Online

40 pilot whales had to be buried and 10 were euthanised in northern New Zealand following the beaching of over 60 whales since Tuesday, the country’s Department of Conservation (DOC) confirmed.

Following the stranding of pilot whales at Whangakopikopiko Island on Wednesday and at Bryan’s Beach on Thursday, 40 whales had to be buried.

10 whales that beached in Ohiwa had to be euthanised on Wednesday.

The decision to euthanise some of the whales was based on the welfare of the animals as well as the ability to help the whales to refloat given the weather conditions.

The DOC said it had taken tissue samples from 49 of the dead whales.

30 pilot whales that had beached in Ohiwa on Tuesday were successfully guided out back to sea and the incident controller Jono Maxwell said the DOC had a contingency plan in case those whales came into trouble once more.

On Thursday an aircraft was sent to locate the pod of whales but they could not be found.

"They flew from Matata in the west around the off-shore islands, over all of Ohiwa harbour and east to Waihau Bay. With perfect visibility they did not see any whales or even dolphins so we are taking that as a positive sign," Maxwell said.

"At this stage we are hopeful there will be nothing but good news for both the whales and those of our staff and the community who have rallied to support this incident."

Over 60 whales were involved in the stranding incidents which occurred first on Tuesday.

The DOC was helped in its efforts by Project Jonah volunteers, a non-profit organisation that provides emergency service for stranded dolphins and whales.