Everyone involved in the attempt to return a juvenile pilot whale to the sea at Ahipara on Friday were hoping that it would not come ashore again.
Confidence was running high on Friday after the 1.8-metre whale, so young that DOC's Kaitaia area manager Jon Maxwell doubted that it would be able to keep itself upright, would not only head for deeper water but would be reunited with its mother.
Two adult whales washed up with the juvenile on 90 Mile Beach between Waipapakauri Ramp and Ahipara, both dying before they could be helped. One was a male and the other a non-lactating female, raising hopes that the calf's mother was still "out there."
Whales communicate over long distances, Mr Maxwell said, and if the mother was in the area, and the calf was successfully returned to the sea, they would probably find each other.
The calf was taken out some distance from shore by a Far North Surf Rescue boat, DOC Kaitaia's acting manager Carolyn Smith saying it was very vocal and energetic.
"Hopefully it found its mother. She would have been out there somewhere," she said.