Hundreds of pilot whales that swam into a shallow New Zealand bay died overnight after they got stuck in the waterway and beached themselves on the coastline, even as the rescuers finally managed to save around 400 of them by sending them back out to sea.
In the third worst incident of its kind in New Zealand, more than 650 pilot whales had beached themselves along Farewell Spit at top of South Island in two separate mass strandings.
As hundreds of whale carcasses lie along the coastline, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has cordoned off the bodies and urged the public to call them if they find any more whale carcasses that had floated away and washed up on nearby shores.
“The area is currently closed to the public because of the risk from whales exploding,” the DOC said in a statement.
It will take several months for the bodies to decompose and turn into skeletons.