Authorities say 29 pilot whales have died on a beach in New Zealand after washing ashore.
The Conservation Department said a group of the mammals were found stranded on Farewell Spit, which is on the northern tip of the South Island.
Medics were working on the five pilot whales that were found alive – and these were refloated in the ocean later on Friday.
“It’s a sad morning after the stranding of 34 pilot whales on Farewell Spit with 29 dead,” the department posted on Facebook this morning local time.
It said: “As heartbreaking as it is, strandings of whales are a natural phenomenon.
“The cause of this stranding is not known, but Golden Bay is a high stranding area with farewell spit that hooks into the bay around the northern entrance and forms extensive sandy areas many kilometers wide between the tides.”
Other stranding events have taken place at this site over the years – including hundreds of whales making landfall on the shore and being refloated in 2017.
At least three dozen whales died after being stranded at Farewell Spit in 2012.
At least 24 died in 2015 when a pod washed up – meanwhile conservationists doused survivors with cold water to keep them cool in hot weather.
After workers refloated five pilot whales on Friday, a freshly beached whale was found several kilometers away on the coast. Officials said it was unclear if this whale was part of the refloated group.
Another whale was found dead on the shore of the site.
https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/pilot-whales-stranded-new-zealand-beach-b2038955.html Twenty-nine pilot whales die after being stranded on a New Zealand beach