AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Radio Australia, Jan. 9) - Rescuers are tonight trying to save a pod of pilot whales stranded off the far south coast of New Zealand.

Radio Australia says more than 80 whales have already died.

Conservation officials believe the pod of 159 came ashore on Stewart Island last night, before being noticed early this afternoon.

Locals rushed to try to save the surviving whales, though Greg Lind from the Conservation Department says they may be too late.

"They're highly stressed, highly dehydrated and the mortality rate is going to be very high.' Stewart Island has become notorious for whale stranding. 300 died there in 1998."

Stewart Island, which lies south of the main south island, has become a notorious spot for whale stranding.

Due to the remoteness of Stewart Island, rescuers believe the whales may have spent more than a day ashore before they were discovered.

A team of around 50 volunteers were working to save the surviving whales.

January 9, 2003

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia. 

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