Mass whale stranding on Chatham Islands

The whales were removed on Friday and buried at the site

The whales were removed on Friday and buried at the site

The deaths there come less than a week after 145 pilot whales were found dead on a remote beach in New Zealand's far south Stewart Island.

Less than a week after 145 pilot whales died in a mass stranding in New Zealand, another 51 have lost their lives in similar but seemingly unrelated circumstances.

The Department of Conservation said they were alerted last night about a mass stranding of whales at Hanson Bay, near the township of Owenga in the Chatham Islands.

When conservationists arrived, they found up to 40 had refloated on their own but another 50 died on the beach. "It was the most humane thing to do", DOC Chatham Islands Operations Manager Dave Carlton said.

DoC Rakiura operations manager Ren Leppens said half of the whales at Stewart Island had already died by the time they were found and due to the condition of the remaining whales and the remote, hard to access location, the decision was made to euthanise the remainder.

"This is always an very bad decision to have to make".

Chatham Island was the scene of New Zealand's largest recorded stranding in 1918, involving 1,000 whales.

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Ten pygmy killer whales also stranded on Ninety Mile Beach in Northland on Sunday. Those whales were also euthanised.

"You're talking about strandings across the entire breadth of New Zealand in a very short period of time, which naturally does cause everyone to reflect on whether those might have something to do with one another", he said.

Stockin, who is an expert consultant on strandings for the International Whaling Commission, said it added to a string of odd whale behaviour over the past year.

Stockin said New Zealand was now experiencing some of the warmest ocean temperatures on record and she believed it was affecting whale behaviour.

"I suspect a lot of that has been driven by the warmer sea surface temperatures that we're seeing at the moment".

Whale strandings are most common in New Zealand during the Southern Hemisphere spring and summer.

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