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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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Mission Rabies 2017 off to a great start

News Story 1
 More than 4,500 dogs have been vaccinated against rabies in one of the first major drives of 2017.

It took just two weeks in January for Mission Rabies to vaccinate 4,575 dogs in the Meru district of Tanzania.

The team set-up vaccination points across the district and followed-up with door-to-door work, checking vaccination cards and giving vaccines to any dogs that had been missed.

Overall, the charity reached 75 per cent of the local dog population, smashing last year's total and comfortably above the required 70 per cent.  

News Shorts
US science association honours leading Pirbright scientist

A leading scientist at The Pirbright Institute has been honoured by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as a 2017-2018 AAAS Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow.

Dr Anthony Wilson, group leader for integrative entomology at Pirbright, was chosen from a large number of international applicants, together with 14 other infectious disease researchers from around the world.

In selecting the new Public Engagement Fellows, the AAAS said they had demonstrated, "...leadership and excellence in their research careers and interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society".