The mass stranding of nearly 145 pilot Whales in New Zealand has come as a shock to the authorities. They learned about this through a hiker. It was in a remote location and by the time rescuers arrived, half of them had died. The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) decided to euthanize the rest. Ren Leppens, an official of DOC, explained that the inaccessible location and condition of the survivors forced the authorities to take the "heart-breaking" decision.

CNN reports that a number of factors led to the decision to euthanize. One of these was the likelihood of successfully re-floating the survivors within a short span of time.

This was not practical considering the remote location, lack of personnel and the physical condition of the whales. Hence, they were euthanized and their remains will be disposed of in local Maori tradition.

Reasons of mass stranding a mystery

This is the second instance of the stranding of whales within a few days. On Sunday, there were 10 pygmy killer whales stranded on the North Island. The location was Ninety Mile Beach, and two of them are dead. Efforts are on to "re-float" the others. The DOC reveals that the annual count of strandings are usually around 85 and these are stray cases of single marine mammals.

In the opinion of DOC, it is not clear why marine animals like whales and dolphins get stranded.

It could be due to health issues or navigational error, or geographical features. Extreme weather conditions could also be another factor. There have been instances of whales landing on the beaches with plastic in their stomachs. Last year, South Island witnessed a stranding when as many as 400 pilot whales beached in Golden Bay, which is on the tip of the South Island.

It was the third largest in New Zealand. However, the largest ever was 100 years ago in 1918 and the approximate number was 1,000.

Refloating stranded whales needs experienced persons

The process of refloating stranded whales is a long one and requires people who are experienced in such matters. A total of 145 whales landed up on Mason Bay in New Zealand, which has a population of less than 400.

The authorities examined the possibilities of refloating the survivors but the shortage of manpower was a major hurdle. the difficult decision to put them to sleep was taken much as is done for other animals like dogs when the need arises.

The Washington Post elaborates on refloating animals like whales and dolphins. They explain that it's a long process and takes hours, plus it requires adequate numbers of trained persons and special equipment. Pilot whales are massive creatures and when dead, this means a whole lot of decaying flesh. This in turn leads to the creation of hazardous gases and conservation authorities advise the public to give such places a wide berth.