Image: Volunteers attend to some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales still alive after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings in New Zealand

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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.

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Image: Volunteers attend to some of the stranded pilot whales still alive after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings in New Zealand

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
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Image: Some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales marked with an 'X' to indicate they have died in New Zealand

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

Anthony Phelps / Reuters
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Image: Volunteers attend to some of the stranded pilot whales still alive after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings in New Zealand

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
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Image: Some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales marked with an 'X' to indicate they have died in New Zealand

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
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Image: People stand between some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales that have died after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings in New Zealand

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
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Image: Volunteers attend to some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales still alive after one of the country's largest recorded mass whale strandings in New Zealand

"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
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Image: Volunteers pour water onto some of the hundreds of stranded pilot whales still alive

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
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Image: Whales are stranded at Farewell Spit near Nelson, New Zealand Friday, Feb. 10, 2017

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
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