More than 30 dolphins have drifted ashore and died off the coast of New Zealand

At least 31 short-winged, round-headed dolphins have landed and perished on New Zealand’s South Island. Animal welfare experts spotted that dolphins landed on Thursday.

On Friday, rescue teams managed to pull 5 dolphins that survived the night into deep water, but two of them drifted ashore again later and had to be sedated to reduce their suffering.

Animal rights activists told BBC News.

Similar mass deaths of dolphins occur regularly on a part of the sandy coast called the Farewell Spit. According to the local authorities, this is a very sad, but normal phenomenon. It is not entirely clear why round-headed dolphins land, but experience has shown that they are more likely to do so than other species.

The 26-kilometre Farewell Spit is a sandbar that extends into the sea and is a popular beach site, although scientists have yet to find a satisfactory explanation. One theory is that the shape of the sandbar could interfere with the direction of the dolphins.

Last year, about 50 round-headed dolphins landed on this stretch, of which 28 were rescued. The most dramatic landing occurred in 2017, when nearly 700 samples were dried up and 250 of them died. In the past 15 years, there have been at least 11 mass landings in the area.

Cover photo: AFP / Department of Conservation New Zealand / Handout

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