Punters are being asked to keep their eyes peeled and report sightings of a pod of pilot whales which were spotted close to shore off Marsden Point in Whangārei yesterday.

Floppy Halliday, co-founder of Whale Rescue, said the pod of about 15 pilot whales were reported by a group of locals out on a fishing trip yesterday evening.

"They called us on the Orca hotline because they thought it was a little bit of a funny place to find whales, and they were milling around and not going anywhere which often can happen if they're a little bit stressed," she said.

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Halliday said since the first sighting, a staff member from the Department of Conservation who lived in Whangārei Heads had been monitoring the area until dark and spotted them about 8pm, Halliday left the Bay of Islands at 5am to travel to Whangārei to search, and a local guy with a microlight had flown around to have a look but hadn't spotted anything.

"It's such a big area down here and there' so many nooks and crannies, and for 15 animals to go into a little bay somewhere it's always a high possibility."

Halliday said the people who reported the whales said they had seen several calves and juveniles so she presumed it was a nursery pod.

"Being a nursery side of the pod I'm actually wondering, and we'll never know, if maybe some body may have had a pregnancy or birthing issue going on, that's a possibility and sometimes they'll come into a shallow area if there's something going on. But there may be something else happening out there and they've come in for a short time."

Project Jonah were also aware and had local medics on standby.

Halliday said she hoped the pod had made their way out to sea again.

In September four adult pilot whales, part of a pod of 30, beached 2km south of Ruakākā Surf Lifesaving Club.

• Punters in the area are asked to keep their eyes peeled and call 0800 7283 94253 (0800 SAVE WHALE); or Department of Conservation on 0800 362468; or Project Jonah 0800 494253.

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