A pod of 107 pilot whales stranded on New Zealand’s south island have died, including 48 killed by authorities, reports said Monday.
According to the NZ Department of Conservation, two tourists reported the pod near the southern tip of the south island Sunday, with staff responding by immediately flying to the area. At the time it is believed half of the animals were still alive.
‘‘We were quickly aware that it would be at least 10 to 12 hours before we could attempt to re-float them and that given the hot, dry conditions many more would soon perish,’’ Brent Beaven, the biodiversity program manager, said.
With a storm warning issued for the area, officials deemed the conditions too dangerous to attempt to re-float the surviving whales and 48 were killed.
All the bodies are being left to decompose naturally along the remote beach.
Pilot whales are the most common species to be stranded along New Zealand shores. A pod of 82 stranded on the south island earlier this month. Ten of them died.