Rescue operation races to save hundreds of whales stranded on New Zealand beach

Reuters | Published: 09:50, Feb 10,2017 | Updated: 10:20, Feb 10,2017

New Zealand, whale

Stranded pilot whales are seen on the beach in Golden Bay, New Zealand after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings on Friday, February 10, 2017. — Reuters photo

Rescuers are racing to save hundreds of pilot whales in New Zealand's picturesque Golden Bay on Friday, after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings.

Up to 300 whales had died and volunteers were trying to send more than a hundred more back out to sea.

A conservation department worker noticed the whales washed ashore on Thursday evening, but the government agency decided against a night rescue effort for fear volunteers would be injured by the whales in the darkness.

Local media reported on Friday that volunteers had managed to refloat some of the whales during high tide, but most were quickly restranded as the tide ebbed.

The event was New Zealand's largest known whale stranding since 1985 when 450 were stranded in Auckland.

Whales often get stuck at Golden Bay, a remote but popular holiday area at the top of New Zealand's south island. The bay's shallow waters make it difficult for whales to return to deeper water, according to marine life rescue organisation Jonah Watch.

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