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New whale strandings in NZ (part IIA)

Steve O'Shea

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It's been a long day. This article is from a stranding yesterday, in which 37 whales died; today they restranded, and a further 17 died.

We've been up there doing what we can, and of course doing the stomach contents again. Will post pics shortly. The sound of crying, dying whales is horrible!!

What I can say of 4 of the whales from yesterday's stranding is that they'd eaten 2/3rds of naught (maximum of ~ 3 or 4 tiny lower beaks in the stomachs; one empty). More to follow for sure.

We have 1 manuscript in review right now reporting the diet of a pod that stranded 21 December 2005; we should be able to get the next one out a lot quicker!
 

tonmo

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Steve, sounds like a tragic scene -- thanks for sharing the information here. Definitely curious.
 

Steve O'Shea

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Just a few pics of the chaos; there are better, but I'm afraid that I had to put the camera down ... (had other things to do)
 

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Steve O'Shea

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A few more
 

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Steve O'Shea

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Last couple. It's a huge affair - people do what they can to save these animals. The NZ DEpartment of Conservation did a truly sensational job coordinating everyone!
 

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Steve O'Shea

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We're almost done on processing these stomach contents, because there was so little in any one whale!

People have criticised our approach because whales are thought to regurgitate the contents of their stomach when under stress, but we do not believe that this has happened in this instance. We propose that hunger is a contributing factor in strandings. These poor things simply had not eaten for a while, and it is quite possible that hunger drove them inshore looking for alternative, shallow-water prey items, with this bad decision leading to their stranding.

Should have something concrete to put online soon.
 

tonmo

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Wow -- if that is the explanation for these strandings, that's a significant story -- makes you wonder about the health of our oceans' ecology...

Have stomach contents been analyzed in other mass strandings / anything recent that would support what you're finding with this incident?
 

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