Target: Maggie Barry, New Zealand Minister of Conservation
Goal: Applaud timely response to the largest mass whale-beaching event in over a decade.
Conservationists recently worked around the clock to respond to the largest mass-whale beaching event in over a decade. Nearly 200 pilot whales were found stuck on Farewell Spit, a remote beach on New Zealand’s southern island. The country’s Department of Conservation, with the help of over 140 volunteers, kept the whales comfortable by pouring water over their exposed bodies until the high tide, when they attempted to float the creatures into deeper water.
Cetaceans such as dolphins, whales, or porpoises can become stranded when chasing prey into shallow water, or as a result of rapid changes in tidal flow. Species that travel in large groups, such as sperm whales and pilot whales, are particularly susceptible to mass stranding. The mass beaching of whales due to natural causes has been happening for thousands of years, but studies have suggested that human interference such as ships and underwater sonar could be increasing the frequency of events.
Stranded cetaceans can suffer from sunburn and dangerous rises in body temperature when exposed to the elements. They can drown if a high tide covers their blowhole, and can also die from dehydration. If stranded for long enough without the buoyancy of water, their bodies can start to collapse under their own weight, crushing the lungs and killing them.
The volunteers successfully re-floated many of the animals, though some returned to shallow waters and ran aground. Though some of the whales have begun to succumb to their injuries, the group stated that it will try to save every creature left alive. They expect to continue working for days to rescue the whales that remain living. Sign the petition below to applaud New Zealand’s timely and well-coordinated efforts to return hundreds of whales to the ocean.
Dear Mrs. Maggie Barry,
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation worked throughout the day and night to attend to nearly 200 beached whales with the help of volunteers. They poured water over whales’ exposed bodies and waited until high tide to get the creatures into deeper water. The efforts are expected to go on for days.
The mass stranding marks one of the biggest of its kind seen in over a decade, but workers tackled it with a quick and well-coordinated response. We, the undersigned, applaud the Department of Conservation for its hard work to help stranded animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ilan Adler