In what the New Zealand authorities have dubbed the third worst stranding on record, at least 400 pilot whales were discovered stuck on the Farewell Spit beach.
Although a number of volunteers attempted to rescue the sea mammals, sadly, approximately 250 to 300 whales died, according to the Department of Conservation.
Good Samaritans also rushed to the location and did whatever was possible to help the 100 surviving mammals.
"There's like two to three hundred car loads of people who have come to help, maybe three to four hundred people," said Kath Inwood, a community ranger from the Department of Conservation. "It can be really quite distressing seeing so many dead whales. People need to be resilient and handle that and then get on with what needs to be done.”
This isn’t the first time people of Farewell Spit have witnessed something so distressing, because the area seems to confuse whales and has seen several mass standings before.
The sea mammals get puzzled when looking for food or come close to the shore to escape predators, but the magnitude of whales this time around was massive.
Almost 300 volunteers and the staff from the Department of Conservation and organization Project Jonah and put in all their efforts to refloat the whales at high tide. They also formed a human chain to stop them from getting back on shore.
Those that were still on shore were kept warm with blankets.
Medics were also present at the location.
People on Twitter shared their sadness over the beaching and gratitude for volunteers.
Of the 416 Pilot Whales that stranded at Farewell Spit, rescuers managed to refloat about 100 of them but the remainder have already died. pic.twitter.com/0QkRFnpWdw— Quad Finn (@Quad_Finn) February 9, 2017
Nature at its best and worst this morning at Farewell Spit pic.twitter.com/OBrHwYWg0K— Cheree Phillips (@Chazza1014) February 9, 2017
More than 400 pilot whales are stranded at Farewell Spit and rescuers are calling for help. pic.twitter.com/MYz97XXNog— Morning Report (@NZMorningReport) February 9, 2017
Only time will tell how many of the remaining whales actually survive.
However, it is time like these that people unite and display humanity at its best. Previously, fishermen in Sydney, Australia, were literally asked for help by a whale that nudged their boat and signaled them to remove the trash bags around its mouth.
Once helped by the brave men, the whale flapped its fin as a sign of appreciation before swimming away.
Banner/Spotlight Credits: Reuters