650 whales stranded on New Zealand coast

Hundreds of whales dead after mass stranding in New Zealand

11 February 2017, 4:24pm
Hours after volunteers and rescuers managed to re-float a group of beached whales, a new group swam aground on New Zealand's South Island.

In total, more than 650 pilot whales have beached themselves along a five kilometer tretch of coastline over two days on Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island. About 335 of the whales are dead, 220 remain stranded, and 100 are back at sea.

At least 250 whales were already dead of 400 found beached on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay on the tip of the South Island Friday, the Department of Conservation said in a statement.

Rescuers attempted to refloat more than 100 whales mid-morning, of which about 50 returned to sea.

However, another 80 to 90 whales who were freed re-stranded themselves in the same place just five hours later.

The news was devastating for hundreds of volunteers who had come from around the country to help with the initial group of 416 stranded whales that was found early Friday, many of them already dead.

Volunteers are planning to return Sunday to help refloat as many healthy whales as they can.