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Beached whales

Massive whales mysteriously wash ashore on New Zealand beaches

Thursday, May 05, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: beached whales, New Zealand, health news

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(NaturalNews) Two giant whales of different species recently washed ashore at Waiinu Beach in South Taranaki, New Zealand, and they were discovered within just a few days of one another. The first whale, an emaciated 73-foot-long rare pygmy blue whale, washed ashore late Friday or early Saturday about a mile south of the Waitotara River, and the other, a sperm whale, turned up on Sunday. Experts are unsure why these whales beached themselves, or why the pygmy specifically was in such poor condition.

"It has clearly suffered pretty badly," said Anton van Helden, a collection manager of marine mammals, of the dead pygmy blue that showed up first. "You can see that the ridge of the back caves away on each side ... it certainly hasn't been feeding. Particularly at this time of year, after they've been feeding over summer down in the Southern Ocean, they should be at their fattest."

The sperm whale, on the other hand, was alive when found. But because conservation officials were unable to effectively hoist the animal back into the ocean, they eventually decided there was no other choice but to put the animal down. Reports did not indicate the overall health of this whale before it was killed.

Experts' initial assessment of the pygmy blue led them to hypothesize that the animal may have choked on netting. But this does not explain why the whale was greatly malnourished, especially during a time of year when feeding is at its peak. And reports do not explain whether or not any actual netting was found inside the whale.

Earlier this year, more than 100 pilot whales mysteriously washed ashore on Steward Island just days before a second large earthquake hit Christchurch. Experts involved with that event were also unable to pinpoint the reason the animals had beached themselves, especially since many of them were still alive at the time they were found. Some suggested that perhaps the whales made a "navigational error" that led them ashore, but a solid reason was never proven.

These events and others all coincide with a mysterious slew of strange animal events that have occurred mostly since the beginning of 2011. You can view a NaturalNews timeline of those earlier events here:

Sources for this story include:



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