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Rotting whales wash up on nearby beaches

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/03/2017

People stand between some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales that have died after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings, in Golden Bay, at the top of New Zealand's south island: People stand between some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales that have died. © REUTERS/Ross Wearing People stand between some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales that have died. Rotting whales carcasses are still washing up on New Zealand shorelines almost one month after the mass stranding of more than 700 animals at Farewell Spit.

Department of Conservation Golden Bay operations manager Andrew Lamason said they did their best during the stranding to get as many of the bodies as possible up on the dunes and buried.

This includes collecting more than 180 dead whales from an area of about 500m using a digger and moving them further up Farewell Spit to a nature reserve not open to the public.

However, the sheer scale of the stranding meant DOC wasn't going to be able to to get all of the carcasses.

"We knew this was going to happen, and we warned other regions, and slowly but surely bodies are turning up," he said.

Volunteers attend to some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales still alive after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings, in Golden Bay, at the top of New Zealand's South Island. New Zealanders race to rescue stranded whales

If the carcass turns up in a remote location, DOC will try to leave it to nature, but if it needs to be shifted it's up to the local DOC office to come up with a plan.

"If it can stay where it is, that''s ideal," Mr Lamason said.

However, the rotting carcass can be toxic to pets.

"Go and have a look, and have a smell, but definitely do not touch. Don't allow pets near it. Dogs can get very, very ill from eating whale carcass."

Around 300 pilot whales died in the Golden Bay area in February in what was the largest mass stranding on the New Zealand mainland since records have been kept.

In 1918 on the Chatham Islands, around 1000 whales beached themselves and 450 in Auckland in 1985

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