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Hundreds of whales die in mass stranding
New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world.

Teams work tirelessly to keep surviving whales afloat

Approximately 400 whales have died in one of New Zealand’s biggest ever pilot whale strandings.

Some 416 whales washed-up near Puponga on the Farewell Spit last Friday (10 February), of which 250-300 were already dead when they were discovered. Attempts to re-float the remaining whales were successful, but a further 200 stranded near the same site on Saturday.

In a statement, New Zealand’s Department of Conservation said that about 400 whales died in the strandings, but the DOC, Project Jonah, and scores of volunteers ‘worked strenuously on their recovery over the three days’.

Three-hundred of the dead whales have been moved by diggers further up Farewell Spit to an area that is not accessible to the public. According to BBC News, workers spent the last few hours piercing holes in the carcases to prevent them from exploding due to gas build up.

According to Project Jonah, New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world. On average, around 300 dolphins and whales strand every year.

It is not yet known why the whales keep returning to Farewell Spit, but experts believe it could be due to sharks (bite marks were found on one of the dead whales), the shape of the coastline, or its shallow tide.

The whales that were refloated are being constantly monitored as there is a risk they could return to shore. According to the latest update, the pod of 150 or more pilot whales are still at sea, about 2km offshore from Pakwau.

“DOC staff have finished their watch for the whales stranding in the area for tonight but DOC staff will search the coastline early tomorrow for any stranded whales,” said a DOC spokesperson.
“The watch has ended tonight after low tide has passed as if the whales should strand tonight they would be refloated in the incoming tide.

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Art installation uses 15,000 discarded plastic bottles

News Story 1
 London Zoo has unveiled a new art installation made from 15,000 discarded single-use plastic bottles, all of which were collected from London and its waterways. The installation, dubbed the Space of Waste, is 16ft tall and was created by the artist and architect Nick Wood. It houses information about plastic pollution and the small steps that everyone can take to tackle the issue.

Mr Wood commented: “Building this piece with ZSL was a satisfying challenge, as plastic bottles are not usually seen as a building material – recycling them into this structure, which will remain at ZSL London Zoo all summer, was a great way to turn the culprits themselves into a stark visual reminder of the worsening plastic problem in our city.” Image © David Parry/PAWIRE/ZSL 

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Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.