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Dozens of stranded whales die in New Zealand

20 August 10 12:20
Volunteers try to re-float a pilot whale, New Zealand

Fifty-eight pilot whales have died after becoming stranded on a coast in northern New Zealand, conservation officials say.

Volunteers are making a fresh attempt to rescue 15 surviving whales, after previous efforts to re-float them failed.

The pod is believed to have washed up on the remote Karikari Beach during the night.

Large numbers of whales become stranded on New Zealand's beaches every year.

Migration

Kimberly Muncaster, chief executive of the Project Jonah whale group, said the surviving whales were in "fairly poor condition".

She said 40 people had tried to move the 3,300lb (1,500kg) whales back into the water on Friday but had failed.

Now, she says, they plan to move them about 1km by transporter to a different bay and re-float them there, where conditions are better.

Over the past 160 years, more than 5,000 whales and dolphins have been recorded stranded around the New Zealand coast.

They are most common in the summer, when whales pass by on their migration to and from Antarctic waters.

Scientists do not know what causes the mass strandings.

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