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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mass death of orcas remains a mystery

Nine killer whales were discovered dead on a southern beach of New Zealand in mid-February of this year, causing major concern amongst researchers. The orca pod, eight adults and one calf, were believed to have been spotted just off-shore the day before they were found beached, and scientists are baffled over what could have caused this event.

Due to the orca population in the region being estimated at a mere 200, this die-off represents a nearly 5% loss, causing one scientist to call it a once in a generation tragedy. Another noted that, due to the rarity of such occurrences, it was likely an 'external factor' was responsible, but cautioned against drawing conclusions until testing of the carcasses was complete.

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