Hundreds of volunteers came together to save more than 100 whales on a beach in Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, New Zealand, during the country’s worst mass stranding in decades. Rescuers dove into the water and formed a human chain by linking arms to help marooned pilot whales get back to sea in a race against time.
Sadly, hundreds of the whales who went off course and beached themselves did not survive, but volunteers were able to rescue the ones who had survived. The rescuers took turns pouring water over the whales to try and keep them cool, while kids sang to calm them down.
This was New Zealand’s largest known whale stranding since 1985, when 450 were stranded in Auckland, and the third largest on record. It’s unknown exactly how the whales became stranded, but it is not an uncommon sight at this beach. The shallow muddy waters confuse the whales’ sonar, leaving them vulnerable to becoming stranded by the tides.