Pilot whale

In the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, almost a hundred of pilot whales have died in a mass stranding. Most of the mammals beached themselves but cannot be rescued.

What is Mass Stranding?

It is a phenomenon in which cetaceans; most commonly whales strand themselves at beaches. It is believed that they get disoriented and are unable to find a way so they strand themselves at a place and eventually die.

Mass Stranding in New Zealand

  • The group of islands is located about 800 kilometres east of the South Island.
  • Because of this distance and isolated area, a rescue operation was difficult. When the officials reached the place, 69 whales had already died. After this, 28 whales and 3 dolphins were euthanized.
  • In the year 1918, around 1,000 pilot whales beached themselves and died, which is the country’s largest recorded mass stranding.
  • The causes of a mass stranding of whales still remain unknown and scientists are studying the process.

Pilot Whales

Pilot whales, the most common species of whale in New Zealand waters, are classified into two major types- Long-finned and short-finned. The Long-finned Whales live in cold waters and short-finned live in tropical and subtropical waters.

The whales, which grow up to six meters long, were named ‘pilot whales’ because the group of whales, also known as pods, were believed to be piloted by a leader. They are also called pothead whales and blackfish.

Australia’s Mass Stranding

In the largest whale stranding of Australia in September 2020, around 450 whales stranded in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s west coast and most of them died. Tasmania experience the largest number of stranding in Australia. Before this, the last mass stranding occurred in 2009 here.

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