A hiker camping in remote Stewart Island alerted authorities to the discovery.

All of the 145 pilot whales that stranded themselves on a remote New Zealand beach have died.

However, conservation workers are hoping to save some of the eight pygmy killer whales that remain stranded at the other end of the country in an unrelated event.

A hiker discovered the pilot whales in two pods about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) apart late Saturday on Stewart Island. About 75 were already dead and conservation workers decided to euthanize the others due to their poor condition and remote location.

DOC Rakiura operations manager Ren Leppens said at least half of the whales were dead by the time staff arrived at the scene.

“Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully refloat the remaining whales was extremely low. The remote location, lack of nearby personnel and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanise,” said Leppens. “However, it’s always a heartbreaking decision to make.”

Whale strandings are relatively common in New Zealand during the Southern Hemisphere spring and summer. It’s believed strandings can be caused by a number of factors, such as the whales trying to escape predators, falling ill, or navigating incorrectly.

Since 1840, more than 5,000 strandings have been recorded around the New Zealand coastline.

Source: The Associated Press & The Guardian

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