Last Monday, workers from the Department of Conservation and volunteers from Project Jonah refloated 47 out of 60 whales which had become stranded along Farewell Spit on the northern coast of New Zealand's South Island. In the days that followed, dozens of whales became stranded yet again, and each time were met by a crowd of volunteers to escort them back into deeper waters.
Thanks to their efforts, a majority of the pod survived the strandings, though it is still too early to tell if the whales will require rescue again in the coming days. The DOC and Project Jonah are monitoring their movements offshore.
The cause of these mass strandings is still largely unknown, attributed perhaps to navigational errors or failing health among the pod. Some researchers have noted a correlation between strandings and seismic activity however. In the days prior to a powerful earthquake which struck New Zealand in 2011, more than 100 pilot whales were found beached along its shores.
Just hours after refloating the whales yesterday, a 6.3 magnitude quake struck less than 200 miles away.