In New Zealand, hundreds of pilot whales recently died after one of the largest mass strandings in history. Scientists are still baffled as to why hundreds of whales would swim themselves onto the shore.
It's always sad to see these types of unexplained occurrences, but there's a silver lining in this case. Volunteers ran to the beach and worked tirelessly to save as many of the whales as possible.
At the end of the day, dozens of whales were returned to their watery home.
On February 10th, a pod of over 400 pilot whales beached themselves overnight. 75 percent of the whales had died by the time a medical rescue team appeared.
Volunteers were able to send around 100 initial survivors back to sea, but 240 more whales showed up just a few days later.
Volunteers poured water over surviving whales until the high tide arrived, making it easier to push the sea creatures back into the water.
Many of the whales in the second stranding were able to swim back into the sea after the high tide rolled in.
Experts don't know exactly why these mass strandings occur, but they are working tirelessly to figure out why these events occur.
Experts think disorientation could be the source, as well as confusion experienced while whales are trying to protect injured pod members.
"You could hear the sounds of splashing, of blowholes being cleared, of sighing," a volunteer told the Associated Press.
"The young ones were the worst. Crying is the only way to describe it." Despite that painful reminder of the situation, rescuers continued to help the whales until they could return to the sea.
After pushing the whales back to water, volunteers formed a human chain to keep the whales from returning to the beach.
There are over 80 strandings on New Zealand beaches each year. If you'd like to contribute to the rescue groups that help save these whales, visit Project Jonah's website!