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223 Stranded Whales Rescue Themselves (npr.org) 74

More than 650 whales beached themselves in New Zealand, and more than 350 of them died. But now an anonymous reader shares NPR's report about a surprising result for the second group of whales. When volunteer rescuers left the beach for the night Saturday, hundreds of survivors from the second stranding remained ashore. Then something curious happened: When the people returned Sunday morning, almost all the surviving whales were gone. All but 17 had left the beach and returned to the waters of Golden Bay overnight.

"We had 240 whales strand yesterday in the afternoon and we were fearful we were going to end up with 240 dead whales this morning," Herb Christophers, a spokesman for New Zealand's Department of Conservation, told Reuters. "But they self-rescued, in other words the tide came in and they were able to float off and swim out to sea."

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223 Stranded Whales Rescue Themselves

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday February 12, 2017 @03:15PM (#53852213)

    Rather than cause problems, as we can see a higher ocean level means more whales can return to the sea. What kind of monsters are you Warming Alarmists that want more whales to die, alone and sandy?

  • disconcerting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday February 12, 2017 @03:28PM (#53852267)

    While it's good that some whales managed to escape, I find it extremely disconcerting that whales are beaching themselves en masse and we don't know why.

    • Bad GPS units from some untrustworthy eBay sellers?

    • by fisted ( 2295862 )

      It was obviously a protest.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My theory is a whale cult. Their leader said that they will get to heaven which is up there. They beach themselves, and find out "shit, I'm desiccating and can't get off this damn beach and I'm hungry. They said there would be endless all you can eat shrimp in heaven."

    • Not disconcerting (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday February 12, 2017 @04:46PM (#53852575)
      Whatever the reason, it's a natural behavior. Contemporary documentation of strandings dates back to at least the 16th century [famsf.org]. Archaeological evidence suggest a stranding about 12,000 years ago [researchgate.net]. And the earliest evidence is for a possible mass stranding is about 6-9 million years ago [newscientist.com].

      So these strandings have been happening for a very, very long time. There is no reason to be disconcerted. Interest in the reasons why should be purely academic until prove to be unnatural. While there has been evidence correlating strandings with man-made activities, per scientific standards the burden of proof is upon those advocating such theories to prove a causal relationship.
      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

        Whatever the reason, it's a natural behavior. Contemporary documentation of strandings dates back to at least the 16th century.

        In fact, I find it quite heartening that we, as humans, now react by gathering a crowd and equipment to try to save them. The historical reaction seems to have been to gather all your neighbors and equipment and cut up all the free meat and oil-blubber.

        If anyone is acting "unnaturally" here, its the humans.

    • Have a look at this then. [nzherald.co.nz]

      There's a graphic that attempts to explain why there are lots of whale strandings at Farewell Spit and while it's fair to say that we don't know why it happens, the explaination sounds likely to me.

      This has been pretty big news here in New Zealand for the last few days, and I heard the Department of Conservation guy on the radio this morning say that the whales that swam off the beach had been moved by volunteers during the previous high tide, so I don't think it's such a mystery

    • They have done this throughout history. It isn't something new and their are many theories from changing currents that disorient them to natural variances in the magnetic field. Not all mysteries are solvable sadly, hopefully one day they do work it out and more importantly work out a method to prevent it.
    • While it's good that some whales managed to escape, I find it extremely disconcerting that whales are beaching themselves en masse and we don't know why.

      One theory floated on the PBS New Hour was that the later beachers were responding to distress calls from the earlier beachers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Japanese swooned in and nabbed em for "scientific research".

  • the Enterprise got 'em.
  • by J. T. MacLeod ( 111094 ) on Sunday February 12, 2017 @03:39PM (#53852321)

    The lesson here is that returning beached whales to sea just returns them to the gene pool, harming the whale population at large.

    If you want to save the whales, you must let the beach-weak whales die. If we keep returning them to the sea, we'll simply have a whale population that's dependent on humans to survive!

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      If you want to se the whales on the otherhand... https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      The lesson here is that returning beached whales to sea just returns them to the gene pool, harming the whale population at large.

      If you want to save the whales, you must let the beach-weak whales die. If we keep returning them to the sea, we'll simply have a whale population that's dependent on humans to survive!

      Your hypothesis assumes implicitly assumes that a survivable portion of the whale population can evolve to handle beaching events or not beach themselves.

      This may not be possible. Especially when you factor in that humans may be causing them to beach themselves.

      Some people believe that the whales are beaching themselves in response to human-induced stimulus (sonar, etc) that is literally driving them from the ocean because remaining in the water is causing them sufficient pain that they do not believe they

  • "But they self-rescued, in other words the tide came in and they were able to float off and swim out to sea."

    Maybe this is what happened...

    "The tide was big enough that it took the dead whales with it out to sea..."

    • by mikaere ( 748605 ) on Sunday February 12, 2017 @03:52PM (#53852391)
      Nah, we've had saturation coverage of this event here in Aotearoa New Zealand. The second pod has been closely monitored and they did actually swim off.
      • Ok...but why not lift them one at a time and dump them into the sea? Or simply roll them onto a tarp and drag this together with the beast into deep waters?

        Better than see hundreds dead and then have to deal with the rotting flesh, right?

        • by Calydor ( 739835 )

          Because you don't just ROLL A WHALE onto a TARP and DRAG IT OFF.

          Seriously, that's cartoon level science.

  • by rundgong ( 1575963 ) on Sunday February 12, 2017 @03:41PM (#53852337)
    But I guess that seems completely normal, and would not generate any clicks...
  • A 200dB sonar ping underwater would be a great way to drive whales out of the ocean. The question is whose sonar ping was it.

  • I think it's obvious what's happening here. Whales are beginning to make their move, training to invade the land and slip quietly back into the sea.

    This is a war we can and must win! Lock up those literal race traitors at Greenpeace and join Japan in the race to save humanity from the terrors in the deep!

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