Hundreds of whales die in New Zealand's third largest mass stranding

Volunteers roll a stranded Pilot whale during a mass stranding at Farewell Spit

And Farewell Spit is located on the north end of Golden Bay, a known hotspot for pilot whale strandings.

Around 400 whales or more had swum to a remote New Zealand beach in one of the tragic happenings of 2017.

It's not entirely clear why whales strand themselves - theories range from distraction while following prey to attempts to protect sick pod members, or even disorientation caused by irregularities in the magnetic field - but pilot whales are especially prone to mass strandings due to their exceptionally social nature, according to the American Cetacean Society.

Many conservation workers and volunteers have been trying to keep the creatures alive by sloshing water over their bodies using buckets. The Department of Conservation puts the number of dead whales as between 250 and 300, reports NBC News.

Volunteers try to keep the animals cool with water.

The remaining whales that lived, numbering approximately 100, waited for Department of Conservation staff to push them back out to sea.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of whale strandings in the world; about 300 whales and dolphins beach themselves on the nation's shorelines each year.

He was unsure as of yet if they would need more volunteers, but considering they had double the amount of volunteers yesterday than their biggest turnout ever for a whale stranding, he was quietly confident there would be enough helpers. An estimated three-quarter of the whales had already perished before the beaching was discovered late Thursday night. Rescuers refloated over 100 whales this morning.

The next opportunity to save the remaining whales is scheduled for noon tomorrow (Saturday) when the tide comes in. Rescuers were able to re-float only about 60 of the whales. A thousand whales were stranded on the Chatham Islands in 1918 and 450 in Auckland in 1985.

Kelsey from Collingwood Area School has been at the spit all day for her first whale rescue.

Takaka Operations Manager Andrew Lamason acknowledged the great work done by whale rescue group Project Jonah.

Conservation workers said numerous surviving whales were probably in bad shape and their condition would likely deteriorate.

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