Dozens of whales die at New Zealand beach

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A major stranding on a New Zealand beach famed for whale fatalities has claimed the lives of at least 31 pilot whales.

The pod was discovered on Thursday, beached across three kilometres of Farewell Spit on the South Island, according to wildlife officials.

Rescuers were able to refloat five whales who had survived the night on Friday.
Officials informed the BBC that at least two had washed up hours later and had to be euthanized.

This is the latest in a series of large strandings at Farewell Spit, on New Zealand’s South Island’s northernmost tip.

Whale stranding’s, while unpleasant, are a natural occurrence, according to authorities.

“Given the area’s geology, it’s not an uncommon event here in Golden Bay… it’s recognised as one of the stranding hotspots,” rescuer Dave Winterburn of the Department of Conservation told the BBC.

“So we have periods where we don’t have any, and then we have a couple in a row – that’s just how things happen.”

The cause of the whales’ stranding is unknown, however pilot whales are known to be particularly vulnerable to beaching. Although specific population numbers are unknown, they are not considered endangered.

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