Fifty pilot whales were confirmed stranded by Project Jonah New Zealand after the organisation was notified of a potential stranding at Farewell Spit this morning.
Trained medics have been mobilized and will be providing first aid help to the whales on the beach, keeping them cool and wet before an afternoon refloat.
With temperatures forecasted to reach a high of 22 degrees, the main concern for whales is overheating, as they are black and attract the hear, Project Jonah communications and volunteer coordinator Louisa Hawkes was quoted as saying by Stuff.
She added that 50 trained volunteer marine mammal medics in the Nelson Tasman area were either on-site or on their way.
Project Jonah NZ has specific advice for Golden Bay strandings on their website, as mass stranding regularly occurs at Farewell Spit.
In February 2017, more than 400 long-finned pilot whales were stranded there – the largest stranding in New Zealand for more than 100 years.
In a Facebook page, the organisation assured that beaches would also be checked for other whales along the coast.
New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world, with 300 dolphins and whales found each year on average.
In New Zealand, the most common species to mass strand are long-finned pilot whales.
Project Jonah NZ’s website states: “Whatever the reason for the initial stranding, the strong social bonds of these animals can draw the rest of the pod in.
“One of the most common patterns with mass strandings is that one or two whales will initially strand. These animals will send out distress signals and members from their pod may attempt to help or mill slightly offshore. A receding tide will then catch these animals out and soon the whole pod will become stranded.”