Whales caught in Farewell Spit 'trap'

KATIE KENNY AND SARAH DUNN
Last updated 10:38 18/01/2014

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A pod of more than 50 pilot whales have beached themselves near Puponga in Golden Bay.

Department of Conservation ranger Neil Murray said this morning that the whales remained in shallow water at Triangle Flat, saying staff would try to refloat them on the high tide at 11.45am.

''I think this is going to be a case of getting them into the water and keeping them there.''

DOC was alerted to the situation about 7am when the manager of a nearby farm called to say he had seen whales splashing on the beach.

Murray said Project Jonah volunteers, members of the public and DOC staff had arrived to take care of the animals. More volunteers were sought.

There were 53 stranded, with 13 now dead.

He said conditions looked more favourable than they had with the previous two pods of whales recently stranded.

Two weeks ago 12 whales died and 27 were euthanised near Farewell Spit, while a pod of 13 stranded three times earlier this week, resulting in the natural death of five whales and euthanisation of eight.

"They do seem to strand at this time of year, but there's really no 'normal' whale stranding.

"[Farewell spit] does seem to be a trap for whales. It has always trapped them, right back through history."

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- The Nelson Mail

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