Efforts continue to free beached whales

Last updated 07:32 25/01/2012
Doug Brooks

Volunteers trying to save pilot whales stranded at Farewell Spit are trained in rescue techniques.

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VIRGINIA WOOLF Zoom
Project Jonah volunteers form a human wall in an attempt to coax the disorientated whale pod into deeper waters.

Volunteers try to save whales

Attempts to save pilot whales

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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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