The cetaceans washed up on the northwest of the island on Friday, the New Zealand Department of Conservation reported. “We do not actively release pilot dolphins due to the risk of shark attacks to humans and (cetaceans) themselves,” the statement continued.
The ministry added that a specialist team euthanized the surviving animals to spare them further suffering. “All stranded pilot dolphins are now dead and their bodies will be left to decompose naturally on site.”
According to the ministry, such strandings are “not unusual” in the Chatham Islands archipelago, located east of the South Island – one of New Zealand’s two largest islands. The largest stranding among those recorded was observed in 1918, with 1,000 cetaceans.
Just over two weeks ago, around 200 pilot dolphins also perished on a beach in Tasmania, Australia. 44 mammals had been released.
The causes of these major strandings are not fully known. Researchers have suggested they could be caused by groups of cetaceans straying after feeding too close to shore.
These pilot whales – another name for pilot dolphins – which can measure up to six meters, being very sociable animals, they can follow the members of their group who get lost and find themselves in danger.
In New Zealand, around 300 animals are stranded each year according to official data. It is not uncommon for a single stranding to involve groups of 20 to 50 cetaceans, or even hundreds when a large group of mammals are involved, such as in 2017, when 700 pilot dolphins were stranded together on the Neo Coast. – Zealander.