A group of 24 stranded whales were found in dire condition in Parengarenga Harbor in New Zealand. Fourteen had died and the Dept. of Conservation was forced to euthanise the remaining ten. According to the Dept. staff, "The kindest thing was to end their suffering.''
The whales had been trapped in shallow water and mud for some time. Possible explanations include sickness and disorientation. According to Dept. staff, ''Because of their close ties to each other, when one of their pod gets into trouble and strands, generally the others will follow to try to help and become stranded themselves.'' (stuff.co.nz)
The whale, and more specifically, the Leviathan, features prominently in Jewish descriptions of the Messianic era. From inner.org:
Leviathan is the name of an archetypal sea-creature, which is destined to wage battle against the Behemoth, only to be consumed by the righteous at the end of days; an animal of "the sea" (a symbol for the concealed realm), it symbolizes the category of righteous souls who are concealed in this world (and whose essential "occupation" in Torah is in its concealed aspect, the Kabbalah--esoteric tradition).The following is taken from chabadworld.net:
Our sages in the Talmud describe an encounter between the Leviathan and the Shor Habar, the "wild ox." The wild ox will gore the Leviathan with its horns, and the Leviathan will slaughter the wild ox with its fins. Although this passage in the Talmud has deep symbolic meaning, Maharsha writes in his commentary on the Talmud that the Feast of Moshiach will also take place literally.
The Leviathan and the Shor Habar (wild ox) symbolize two types of divine service. The Leviathan, which lives in the sea, represents spirituality, which is hidden. There are righteous people whose main form of divine service is to separate themselves from this world in order to engage in strictly spiritual pursuits.
The "wild ox" which lives on land, represents the physical realm. There are righteous people who struggle to infuse the physical with holiness. The term "bar," which literally means "wild," shares a root with the Hebrew word "Birur" - refinement. The task of these righteous people is to refine the physicality of the world.
The righteous symbolized by the Leviathan reach superior levels of spirituality. However, the second type, who purify the physical, complete the purpose of creation, which is to refine the physical world.
When the redemption will come, the two classes of tzadikim will influence one another, and each will absorb the special qualities of the other. In spiritual terms, "slaughter" means to elevate. This is the spiritual meaning of the mutual "slaughter" of the Leviathan and wild ox: Each type will elevate the other to its own stature. Thus, through the combined efforts of the two types of tzadikim, the highest levels of spirituality will be drawn down into the physical world.