A pod of pilot whales stranded at the base of Farewell Spit in Golden Bay has been euthanased.
Eleven of the 28 whales had died earlier and Department of Conservation biodiversity manager Hans Stoffregen said the rest could not be saved. They were shot this afternoon.
The whales were sick and had been stranded in an unusually high tide and the next high tide at midnight probably would not reach them, he said.
Iwi representatives were still on their way.
Mr Stroffregen said it was a tough call but realistic. ‘‘We don’t want to prolong their suffering.''
Mr Stoffregen said DOC first got a call at 9am that a baby whale had stranded on its own and when staff went there they learnt of another 28 stranded about 2km east of the bottom of Farewell Spit.
It had called in Project Jonah volunteers who were with the whales.
Mr Stoffregen said it was possible more whales might also come in, and he asked anyone seeing more whales out at sea or beached to contact DOC
This stranding was earlier than usual, with the main season for whale strandings from around the end of the year through until March, he said.
Today it was becoming windy and bad weather was expected on Saturday, he said.