Almost 150 pilot whales washed ashore on remote New Zealand island

145 pilot whales die in mass stranding in New Zealand

About 145 whales who were stranded off New Zealand's Stewart Island are dead - with authorities forced euthanise about half of them.

On Saturday night the Department of Conservation [DoC] was informed of a mass whale stranding in Mason Bay on Stewart Island.

The massive stranding was discovered by a hiker camping in the remote area, the DOC said in a statement.

About 75 were already dead and conservation workers made a decision to euthanise the others due to their poor condition and remote location.

The rest of the whales were euthanised due to their deteriorating condition and the remote, hard access to the location.

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"However, it's always a heart-breaking decision to make", he added.

It was the second stranding in the Far North in three days after a 15m sperm whale died on Tokeroa Beach on Saturday, after washing ashore on Friday.

On Sunday, 10 pygmy killer whales were found stranded on Ninety Mile Beach, in the country's North Island.

Last year, New Zealand witnessed the largest incident of whale strandings as 300 whales died on a beach in South Island. It's believed strandings can be caused by a number of factors, such as the whales trying to escape predators, falling ill, or navigating incorrectly. However, the remaining had to be put down as it would have been hard to save them.

Mass strandings are less common but still happen regularly in Australia and New Zealand.

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The vision shows some of up to 145 whales which were found in two pods, either dead or later euthanised.

Cetaceans' stranding is quite frequent in New Zealand, with an average of 80 whales and dolphins beaching themselves every year. A mass sighting like this is rare, the DOC said.

The tragic incident took place on Stewart Island - also known as Rakiura - to the south of New Zealand's South Island.

The local Maori tribe will work with the operations manager to bury the whales in accordance to tradition, CNN reported.

It would have been too hard and required too many people to even attempt to save the surviving whales. Two have died and conservation workers are trying to save the other eight by floating them from a different beach on the East Coast.

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