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61 whales die in New Zealand mass stranding
by Staff Writers
Wellington (AFP) Nov 16, 2011

More than 60 pilot whales died in a mass stranding at a remote New Zealand beach, conservation officials said Wednesday.

Tourists found the pod of 61 beached whales on Monday at Farewell Spit, on the top of the South Island, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said.

DOC local manager John Mason said a large number were already dead and hopes the survivors would refloat at high tide on Tuesday were dashed when the whales swam back to shore.

He said 18 whales remained alive early Wednesday and DOC staff decided to euthanize them, rather than prolong their suffering.

"It's the worst outcome and it's not a job our staff enjoy doing at all," Mason said.

Pilot whales up to six metres (20 feet) long are the most common species of whale in New Zealand waters, with mass standings occurring about two or three times a year.

Scientists are unsure why pilot whales beach themselves, although they speculate it may occur when their sonar becomes scrambled in shallow water or when a sick member of the pod heads for shore and others follow.

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Antarctic killer whales may seek spa-like relief in the tropics
Washington DC (SPX) Oct 31, 2011
NOAA researchers offer a novel explanation for why a type of Antarctic killer whale performs a rapid migration to warmer tropical waters in a paper published this month in the science journal Biology Letters. One tagged Antarctic killer whale monitored by satellite traveled over 5,000 miles to visit the warm waters off southern Brazil before returning immediately to Antarctica just 42 days ... read more

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