Stranded whales refloated in NZ

Volunteers try to save stranded whales at Farewell Spit.
Volunteers try to save stranded whales at Farewell Spit. Supplied/NZ Herald

ALL surviving whales stranded at Golden Bay in New Zealand have been refloated this morning.

A pod of 100 pilot whales stranded at Farewell Spit around midday yesterday.

The death toll from the stranding rose to 34 this morning after Department of Conservation staff, Project Jonah medics and volunteers found 12 more dead whales on the sand.

Project Jonah chief executive Kimberley Muncaster said all of the 39 surviving whales had been refloated at high tide this morning and efforts were now being made to coax them all back out to sea.

"There's a lot of stopping and starting," she said. "The whales are all talking to each. We're making quite good progress."

Ms Muncaster was not aware of anymore whales dying over the course of the morning.

Another 27 whales which were unaccounted for last night had been found in surf near the stranding site this morning.

Ms Muncaster said one of the stronger whales would be loaded into a rescue pontoon and taken out to sea as a "lure" for the rest of the pod.

It was hoped the other stranded whales would follow the pontoon out into the open water and join the 27 whales further out to sea, she said.

Last night Project Jonah appealed for more volunteers to help with the refloating efforts.

It appealed to anyone to visit to find out what they will need to bring to help.

All volunteers should report to the DOC stranding base at Triangle Flat.

This latest whale stranding, seven kilometres along Farewell Spit, is only two kilometres from where 25 whales beached earlier this month. Eighteen died.

Topics:  new zealand whales

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