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Volunteers Race to Save Beached Whales After Hundreds Stranded

Rescuers raced to save scores of whales in a remote bay in New Zealand after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings.

A volunteer pours water on one of hundreds of stranded whales on Farewell Spit in New Zealand on Feb. 10, 2017.

More than 400 whales swam aground along the remote beach. Some three hundred of them were already dead when they were discovered.

 

 

Anthony Phelps / Reuters

Whales are marked with an 'X' to indicate that they have died. 

Anthony Phelps / Reuters

Hundreds of volunteers flocked to Farewell Spit after dawn broke and surviving whales were re-floated at high tide but 90 quickly became stranded once again as the tide ebbed. 

Anthony Phelps / Reuters

A conservation department worker spotted the whales washed ashore on Thursday evening. But the government agency decided against a night rescue effort because of the risk of accidents.

Anthony Phelps / Reuters

This was New Zealand's largest known whale stranding since 1985, when 450 were stranded in Auckland, and the third largest on record.

Ross Wearing / Reuters

"You could hear the sounds of splashing, of blowholes being cleared, of sighing," Cheree Morrison, a magazine writer and editor told AP. "The young ones were the worst. Crying is the only way to describe it."

Anthony Phelps / Reuters

Rescuers took turns pouring water over the beached whales to try and keep them cool, while school children sang to soothe the distressed beasts.

Anthony Phelps / Reuters

Farewell Spit, a sliver of sand that arches like a hook into the Tasman Sea, seems to confuse whales and has been the site of previous mass strandings.

VIDEO: Hundreds of Whales Stranded in New Zealand

Tim Cuff / AP