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Beware exploding whales: New Zealand issues warning after mass stranding

16 February 2017

But over the following days, hundreds more whales from a different pod also became stranded.

Rescuers found no newly stranded whales Monday on a notorious stretch of New Zealand's coastline where hundreds of marine mammals died after beaching themselves last week, conservation officials said. I understand they're concerned about people's welfare.

More than 400 pilot whales swam aground and became stranded on Golden Bay's Farewell Spit Thursday, sparking a massive rescue operation.

Dedicated animal lovers saved 100 of the whales but matters were complicated Sunday when a further 18 washed up on another beach, less than a kilometer away. "They've been singing songs to them, giving them specific names, treating them as kindred spirits".

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of whale strandings in the world, and Friday's event was the nation's third-biggest in recorded history, the AP reported.

Christophers said everyone is hoping the strandings are finally over, although he said it's possible some of the whales will return to the beach and strand themselves again.

The first group of whales could have accidentally gotten too close to shore, and then got stranded as the retreating tide left the sandbanks exposed. Echolocation "is not well-suited to shallow, gently sloping waters, because they generally prefer high relief (steep) areas such as the edge of the continental shelf", the Department of Conservation explains on its website.

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Whales appear to have stayed out at sea following a mass stranding over the weekend.

According to the BBC, the environmental group Project Johan has a plane flying over the bay to keep track of the movements of the whales that have been successfully refloated.

Now that experts have said it's unlikely that a large, nearby pod will follow suit, the DOC is tasked with disposing of the 240 or so carcasses that remain.

The agency is now trying to figure out what to do with the carcasses of the dead whales.

The bodies could take up to several months to decompose and turn into skeletons.

Authorities have set about moving hundreds of whale carcases into the sand dunes in a part of Farewell Spit not open to the public where they buried them with a digger.