Whale stranding: four more die overnight

By Paul Harper

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All surviving whales have been refloated. Photo / Supplied
All surviving whales have been refloated. Photo / Supplied

Four more long-finned pilot whales have died overnight after re-stranding at Farewell Spit on Golden Bay.

The whales were part of a pod of 99 whales that beached around midday on Monday which were re-floated yesterday.

However 39 whales stranded again yesterday afternoon.

Project Jonah chief executive Kimberly Muncaster said the latest deaths bring the toll of dead or unaccounted-for whales to 47.

She said a small group of 17 whales re-floated themselves on Monday night and appear to be safely back at sea.

Volunteers and Department of Conservation staff will today work to keep the remaining 35 whales on the beach cool and shaded from the sun before attempting to re-float them later this morning.

"The whales that are still alive this morning are in a reasonable condition, so an attempt to re-float them will be made at high tide today, just before midday," Ms Muncaster said.

"Unfortunately, they have moved further east, which takes them to the margin of our ability to work with them, but they aren't beyond reach."

She said a limited number of volunteers were still needed. People hoping to help out should visit the Project Jonah website for more information.

"With the whales being so far down the spit, people should be well prepared with everything they might need."

Ms Muncaster also urged people in the Golden Bay and Tasman area to be vigilant and look for signs of a possible re-stranding of the whales which have already made it back to sea.

"Basically, if there are any sightings of pilot whales in or around Golden Bay, people should call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or 0800 4 WHALE (0800 494 253) immediately.

"The sooner a stranding is reported to the Department of Conservation, the better the chances for the whales."

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