Crowds rush to save whales stranded on New Zealand beach

Volunteers pour water on pilot whales during a mass stranding at Farewell Spit on February 11, 2017. (AFP)

About 1,000 people rushed to a New Zealand beach Saturday to try to save a pod of whales that stranded overnight, overwhelming conservation workers who were appealing for specialist assistance.

Three of the short-finned pilot whales had died and an attempt to refloat the surviving seven was to be made on the mid-afternoon high tide at the beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island.

“Seven whales that stranded at Matarangi Spit are being looked after by as many as 1,000 people,” the marine conservation group Project Jonah said in a statement.

“This is an overwhelming response, and we ask that, unless you are a trained medic, you do not visit the stranding.”

Short-finned pilot whales are closely related to the long-finned pilot whales that are regularly involved in mass strandings in New Zealand waters.

Two years ago, more than 330 pilot whales died in two strandings at Farewell Spit at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:01 - GMT 07:01