Wellington: Hundreds of pilot whales have died after being stranded on New Zealand’s Pitt Island in the Pacific Ocean.
While most of the whales died naturally, the Department of Conservation said that the surviving whales were euthanised.
The mass stranding incident comes less than a month after about 200 pilot whales died on the coast of Tasmania in Australia.
Whale beaching is one of the most mysterious events in marine science, which is yet to be decoded by marine biologists.
Scientists speculate that the reason could be the sociable nature of whales and dolphins that live in colonies. They travel together in pods, often following a leader, and are known to gather around injured or distressed whales.
It’s common for pilot whales to become stranded but the behavior is not well understood, according to the Department of Conservation. Most scientists believe that individual whales strand because they are diseased and coming to the end of their natural lifespan.
The Chatham Islands, which are home to about 600 people, are among the top three “stranding hotspots” in New Zealand. In 1918, the archipelago saw the biggest recorded stranding in the country of about 1,000 pilot whales, according to the department.