Rescue bid for stranded whales

Thirteen beached, 55 saved at Farewell Spit

Last updated 12:20 14/01/2014
stranded whales
CHARLOTTE SQUIRE/FAIRFAX NZ

RESCUE OPERATION: Volunteers attend to a pod of thirteen stranded whales at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay.

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Thirteen whales have beached near Farewell Spit, near Golden Bay.

A group of 20 volunteers, including DOC staff, are working to save the group of 13 stranded pilot whales until high tide .

A Fairfax reporter at the scene said many of the volunteers were helping out at a whale stranding for the first time.

The reporter said DOC staff in boats had successfully saved the other 55 whales from stranding at this stage. 

DOC ranger Greg Napp said a strong westerly wind was making conditions difficult and the sea rough.

"We will need to assess the sea conditions around 6.30pm to assess whether it will be safe to have people in chest-deep sea water attempting to refloat the whales in this remote location." said Mr Napp.

The whales would need to be refloated before dark when it is unsafe for people to work in the sea trying to refloat the whales.

DOC rangers in a boat had been following the whales still at sea but lost sight of them in the choppy sea.

DOC staff will be out at first light tomorrow morning looking for any whales stranded on the coastline along and south of Farewell Spit.

"High tide was at 9.30 this morning, so the next high tide is 9.30 this evening - which means we have a short space of time to get them floating again," he said.

"It's a long time for them to be out in the sun."

He said they would need to be back in the water between 8.00pm and 8.30pm, before sunset.

The rest of the pod are offshore, but are still not out of danger yet, Napp said.

"We have a boat in the water to intervene if we need to, because they could beach at the low tide mark," he said.

DOC would use the boat to direct the other whales from danger.

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