About 97 whales and three dolphins died on landing, to which conservation department staff were called around noon local time on Sunday.
“Only 26 of the whales were still alive at this point, most of them seemed very weak and euthanized because of the rough sea conditions and the almost certain presence of large white sharks in the water brought about by a drift,” said Jemma Welch, biodiversity supervisor.
Experimental whales — small, toothed whales with bulging foreheads, short-nosed, and pointed flippers — are social creatures, living in groups of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands.
Two more whales were stranded on Monday and had to be euthanized, the Department of Nature said, adding that the whales would remain in natural decay.
Representatives of the Indigenous Hokotehi Moriori Trust and Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust karakii / karakia “Prayer or sorcery — in honor of the spirit of the whales on Sunday,” the class added.
According to the ministry, mass landings are common in the Chatham Islands, with up to 1,000 animals killed in a landing in 1918.