10 Oct 2022

Second mass whale stranding on the Chatham Islands in days

7:31 pm on 10 October 2022
An aerial drone photo of the whales stranded on the Chatham Islands.

File photo: Department of Conservation staff are responding to a mass stranding on Rangiauria/Pitt Island. Photo: Sam Wild

There has been another mass stranding of pilot whales on the Chatham Islands, with reports suggesting 250 whales have stranded on Rangiauria/Pitt Island.

More than 250 whales that stranded on the Chatham Islands on Friday died or had to be euthanised.

Rangiauria/Pitt Island is about 40km south of where the whales stranded on Friday.

Project Jonah said on Facebook there was only one Department of Conservation (DOC) ranger on Pitt Island and a DOC team was being mobilised from Chatham Island in response.

"This is an incredibly isolated and remote part of the world, with a small population and known for great white sharks which pose risk to both people and whales."

When strandings occur on the Chatham Islands whales are not actively refloated due to the risk of shark attacks to people as well as to the whales themselves. That was why the whales which stranded on Friday and did not die had to be euthanised.

Whale strandings are not uncommon on the Chatham Islands.

The largest recorded pilot whale stranding on Rēkohu occurred in 1918, when an estimated 1000 whales died.

More than 100 pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins died after being stranded in November, 2020. Twenty-six of them had to be euthanised.

Project Jonah said its thoughts were with DOC staff and the local community.