A group of 22 whales which re-stranded on Bryan's Beach near Ohope in the Bay of Plenty have all died.
Six of the whales had died overnight, a further eight whales died early this morning and the decision was made to euthanise the remaining eight whales stranded on the beach about 8.30am.
Staff from the Department of Conservation and Project Jonah found the whales in a poor state of health when they arrived at the beach early today.
Incident controller Jono Maxwell said the decision to euthanise was made based on the welfare of the animals, the developing weather conditions and the available options for refloating the whales.
More than sixty whales were involved in the stranding incidents which started to unfold on Tuesday afternoon.
Project Jonah volunteers and DoC staff were successful in refloating 21 stranded whales yesterday, but 22 returned to the shore this morning.
Project Jonah's post thanked everyone who had been involved. "A sad outcome after the successes of yesterday's efforts."
A total of 48 whales have so far died.
Project Jonah's general manager Darren Grover thanked the community who had been involved in the operation so far.
"This is a sad outcome after yesterday's successes. It's worth remembering that every moment out of their natural environment is a highly stressful time for these beautiful animals".
DoC remains on standby and will be monitoring the situation in case any further groups of whales come into difficulty.
• Pilot whales are one of the largest members of the dolphin family, but they are treated as whales under the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992. They were named pilot whales because it was thought that each pod followed a 'pilot' in the group.
• Pilot whales live in stable family groups, and offspring of both sexes stay in their mother's pod throughout their lives.
• Pilot whales are prolific stranders, and this behaviour is not well understood. The biggest recorded pilot whale stranding was an estimated 1000 whales at the Chatham Islands in 1918.
Source - www.doc.govt.nz