Whales die after New Zealand beaching

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Authorities say 15 pilot whales have died after beaching themselves near Christchurch, New Zealand.

Mark Simpson of the group Project Jonah speculated the whales came into Port Levy on Banks Peninsula early Sunday morning chasing fish and became stranded when the tide dropped, TVNZ of New Zealand reported.


An alarm went out about 6:30 a.m. and 80 locals re-floated about 30 of the mammals.

"We really just stood with them and as the tide came in and started floating, we were just able to push them out and away they went," local Ted Haowden says.

Sunday's beaching followed an event Saturday night when pilot whales came into the bay and the locals guided them back out, Haowden said.

"We thought everything was OK, we checked them in the boat and then we woke up this morning and saw a whole lot on the beach here," he said.

Local residents expect to bury the whales on the beach Monday afternoon.

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