Whale rescue: Major setback as refloated whales re-stranded themselves

Publish Date
Friday, 10 February 2017, 3:40PM

Fifty of the 100 re-floated pilot whales have re-stranded themselves at Farewell Spit.

Rescuers trying to save the whales, who survived one of the country's largest mass strandings, have been facing a major setback as the refloated whales start heading back into the beach.

Only 100 pilot whales survived after a large pod of 416 stranded on Farewell Spit overnight.

The Department of Conservation Golden Bay operations manager Andrew Lamason said the survivors that had been refloated were now swimming in the wrong direction and headed back into the bay.

Rescuers had fingers crossed they would still turn around on the high tide but were preparing for the worst.

Lamason said they would not have another chance to refloat the whales until tomorrow's high tide as it was too dangerous to try a rescue at night.

In the meantime volunteers would help DOC staff care for the stranded whales throughout the afternoon and do whatever they could to keep them comfortable, he said.

Project Jonah has issued a Facebook alert about the mass stranding at the northern end of Golden Bay. Hundreds of people have responded to the call for volunteers and the road to the South Island beach is packed with cars heading to the remote area.

The Interislander ferry this morning offered free passage on its afternoon sailings for marine mammal medics headed to the rescue operation.

Those keen to take up the offer had to present their Project Jonah ID card and call customer services on 0800 802 802 for a booking.


For more on this story visit the NZ Herald.