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The Department of Conservation (DOC) has successfully refloated two of the three whales that were stranded at Papamoa Beach today.
One of them, a juvenile, died.
DOC staff and Marine Mammal Medics from Project Jonah stabilised the two adults, which were refloated late this afternoon and have returned to sea.
They were believed to be Gray's beaked whales.
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"The last time we had a whale stranding in the Bay of Plenty was Nobby,'' about three years ago, said DOC's Katrina Knill.
"Gray's beaked whales are relatively rare but do appear in Tauranga Harbour from time to time.''
DOC said it won't be known whether this stranding was related to the Rena oil spill until the post mortem examination of the juvenile whale is completed.