by KHALANI GARAY
Saturday, February 11, 2017, marked the third largest mass beaching of pilot whales in New Zealand’s history. That day, nearly four hundred pilot whales died on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, which is on the tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Farewell Spit is considered to be a whale trap due to the shallow water there. Whales were first spotted late Thursday night, before being found on the beaches of Farewell Spit Friday morning. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have joined the rescue effort. The first largest whale stranding took place in 1918, when one thousand whales stranded themselves on the Chatham Islands. The second largest was in Auckland in 1985, when four hundred-fifty whales ended up on a beach there. This whale beaching has been marked as the third largest.
Conservation officials have now said they have begun puncturing the whales carcasses of hundreds that have died simply because they will begin to explode if left out too long. “In the heat, the whales can explode, but we’ve taken steps to prevent that,” Trish Grant, a spokeswoman for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, told CNN. Volunteers have also now moved the dead whales up the beach to a location that is not open to the public, just for safety. It is still unknown what causes the whales to do this. It could be because of one whale following another, or simply just because a whale has gotten in trouble.