National | Ninety Mile Beach

High tide brings hope for stranded whales

Credit: Project Jonah

It's hoped that this afternoon's high tide at Ninety Mile Beach in Northland will allow The Department of Conservation and voluntary groups to save 10 stranded whales.

Two whales have already died since they first spotted last night.

General Manager of the marine mammal protection charity, Project Jonah New Zealand, Daren Grover says, "From what we saw last night some of them had a few cuts and scratches but that may have been from rolling around in the surf when they originally stranded, and reports from the beach do indicate they seem to be pretty strong so that does give us a lot of hope for a successful re-float."

*** STRANDING UPDATE *** This morning 12 whales have been found south of Te Paki Stream in Northland, 10 are alive. The...

Posted by Project Jonah New Zealand on Sunday, November 25, 2018

He says when there is a mass stranding, it is important that when it comes to releasing them back into the water, they release the whales as a pod, not individually.

"They would have stranded together, they would have been travelling through the ocean and living together this tight family pod. So if we were to take one and put it back in the water it's most likely to turn around and re-strand because the rest of its family are still on the beach.

By using the incoming tide we are able to re-float the whole pod together and by doing that they are able to re-socialize regroup check in with their pods to see who survived and hopefully then they'll swim out in to the deeper ocean together."

It is not yet known what type of whales are they but there is speculation that they could be Pygmy Killer Whales.

Grover says Aotearoa has always been the number one country in the world for the highest number of strandings.

"We've seen some high ocean temperatures close to shore the last few years that could be bringing more species closer to shore, that could also be affecting the amount of food that's available to whales in different parts of the ocean and that might be bringing them closer to shore as well."

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