Efforts continue to free beached whales

18:32, Jan 24 2012
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Volunteers attempt to keep the stranded whales alive at Farewell Spit.
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The recovery effort winds down for the day on Monday evening, and a notice advises volunteers to resume the operation the following morning.
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The beach at Farewell Spit is littered with beached pilot whales; some showing faint signs of life among several dead whales.
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A volunteer douses a beached whale with buckets of water.
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Volunteers attempt to keep the stranded whales alive at Farewell Spit.
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Project Jonah volunteers concentrate their efforts on keeping the stranded pilot whales hydrated.
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Dead whales lie on Farewell Spit while the recovery effort continues.
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The tide comes in early on Tuesday morning as volunteers prepare for another day.
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Amanda Harvey of DOC Takaka ties a tag onto a dead pilot whale as rescue efforts continue in the background.
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The rescue operation is put on hold as volunteers tally the number of dead and surviving pilot whales.
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DOC workers look over a pod of stranded pilot whales as rescuers leave for the evening.
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A German tourist helps out.
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Project Jonah volunteers form a human wall in an attempt to coax the disorientated whale pod into deeper waters.
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Volunteers shepherd a refloated pilot whale out of shallow waters at Farewell Spit.
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A stranded pilot whale lies on the beach at Farewell Spit.

Another effort is to be made today to try to free a group of pilot whales stranded on Farewell Spit.

Around 100 whales stranded at the Spit, on the northwest tip of the South Island, around midday on Monday.

Thirty-four whales died overnight Monday, and while some did free themselves at high tide, about 40 remained beached yesterday.

Efforts to refloat those whales at high tide yesterday were unsuccessful, and early today the Department of Conservation reported 35 live animals and four dead.

DOC Golden Bay area manager John Mason said the whales that were still alive were in reasonable condition, and another attempt to refloat them would be made at high tide.

About 200 people, including DOC staff, Project Jonah members and volunteers, had tried to encourage the whales to swim away yesterday.

But when the tide came in the animals had not wanted to leave from the area where they stranded, and when the tide went out they had remained beached.

"We have a very short period of time to try to persuade them to leave. We tried very hard yesterday to physically push them out to sea. They didn't go."

The spot where the whales were stranded is close to where 25 were stranded early in January. Seven of those whales died, while 65 whales died after becoming stranded in the same area in November.

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SMALL CHANCE OF REFLOATING: A pod of 99 pilot whales stranded at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay on Monday. There were previous mass strandings in the area in January and November.
SMALL CHANCE OF REFLOATING: A pod of 99 pilot whales stranded at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay on Monday. There were previous mass strandings in the area in January and November.