Mystery surrounds a massive stranding that left about 100 whales and dolphins dead on a remote series of islands.
Officials said 97 pilot whales and three bottlenose dolphins were discovered in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand.
Most of them were stranded over the weekend.
But rescue efforts have been hampered by the remoteness of the islands, which lie nearly 500 miles off the country’s east coast.
Rescue workers found that only 26 of the whales were still alive.
The giant mammals were euthanized in an effort to keep great white sharks from trying to feast on their carcasses.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) said it had been informed of the incident on Sunday.
Jemma Welch, a DOC biodiversity ranger, said: “Only 26 of the whales were alive at this time, most appeared very weak, and were euthanized
the rough sea conditions and the almost certainty that there are great white sharks in the water, brought in by a beaching like this. “
Massive strandings are fairly common in the Chatham Islands, with up to 1,000 pilot whales dying in a single stranding in 1918.
Every year up to 2000 animals strand themselves around the world.
But marine biologists have wondered why it happens for years.
Ocean temperature changes and powerful sonar are both to blame.
In late September, hundreds of whales died in shallow waters off the Australian coast in one of the world’s largest massive whale strandings.
A first group of about 270 pilot whales was found near the remote town of Strahan on the island of Tasmania.
But a second group of 200 then stranded six miles further up the coast.