22 Jan 2011

Experts monitoring mass whale strandings

7:44 pm on 22 January 2011

Researchers will scrutinise the latest mass stranding of pilot whales in the Far North for connections to two other strandings.

Fourteen whales were found dead in Parengarenga harbour on Friday, while another 10 were not able to be saved.

Two other groups of pilot whales have stranded in the Far North in recent months, with one pod beaching at Karikari Beach in August, and another at Spirits Bay in September.

In total, the strandings have involved more than 150 whales.

Department of Conservation spokesperson Carolyn Smith says it's not known whether the events are connected, or whether some of the whales have stranded more than once.

But, she says, a Massey University researcher has requested photos of the dead whales' fins, so he can try to identify them.

She says whale strandings are not uncommon in Northland, but it is unusual to have three mass strandings of one species in such a short space of time.