Community work together to help save stranded whales

By Ani-Oriwia Adds
  • South Island

Attempts to re-float the remaining stranded pilot whales at tonight's high tide at Farewell Spit near Golden Bay has been called off due to safety concerns.

The majority of the 400 or so stranded whales have died but rescue teams and volunteers worked tirelessly to keep the surviving whales alive.

An emotional atmosphere at Farewell Spit.

Volunteer Jonathan Radbeard Jones- Volunteer says, “It’s really eerie being up here you know and seeing so much death, but then it’s also so positive seeing how much of the community has actually come out here to lend a hand and try and really help the environment.”

Rescuers have helped 100 whales stay afloat in this morning’s high tide but 50 of them have re-stranded and it's predicted it will happen again at low-tide this evening. Calls to re-float during the late night high tide have been called off due to safety concerns.

Mike Ogel from the Department of Conservation says, “These dead ones, we will probably just dispose of them like we did last year. We feathered them up in the tidal flats well down in the nature reserve so they're away from the public and the sea deals with them pretty quick and recycles the nutrients.”

The whales were spotted swimming close to shore by a DOC ranger in the area last night. At first light this morning the stranding was confirmed.

The whales were spread out over a huge distance about 500 metres out to sea. About 90 more volunteers had arrived at the scene at about 9am and more arrived throughout the day.

Ogel says, “The best case scenario is that the live ones we've got now get their act together, get themselves orientated and just swim away and we never see them again, you've always got to be optimistic but otherwise tomorrow we will be back at it again.”

Although it is a sad situation, Mike is happy to see the community working together to save these beautiful mammals.