Nearly 200 pilot whales were stranded on Farewell Spit in New Zealand’s Golden Bay and 24 of them have already died, authorities said Friday. About 80 rescuers were working to help the creatures refloat into deeper waters.
Andrew Lamason, manager of the Department of Conservation, reportedly said it was getting difficult for workers to move the whales back into high tides as too many of them were stranded on the shore. He warned that a delay could reduce the chances of survival for the remaining whales.
The Farewell Spit, which is located on the northwestern part of South Island, is described as a whale trap due to its shallow waters that seem to confuse whales, reducing their ability to navigate their way to the waters.
"We've had plenty times in the past where the pods have gone out to sea and turned around and come back again," Lamason said, according to The Associated Press. "We're preparing for a big few days.
“What the risk is, is you’ve got some of those whales in that pod which are determined to restrand and they’ll be dragging the ones that have been refloated back onto the beach,” he said.
Lamason also reportedly said that some of the whales, who were refloated in the high tide, were “swimming in a confused fashion.”
Authorities reportedly said that they would continue efforts to save the whales again on Saturday as it was “far too dangerous” to have “people overnight in the water with whales.”
During the New Zealand summer, strandings of pilot whales, which grow about 20 feet in size, are a common phenomenon.
However, the reason behind the strandings remains a mystery to scientists, The New Zealand Herald reported.