Hundreds of whales refloated in New Zealand mass stranding

It is one of the biggest whale strandings in New Zealand's history

Updated: 
Hundreds of whales refloated in New Zealand mass stranding



Hundreds of volunteers have been helping to refloat whales in New Zealand's Golden Bay.

Around 120 were put back out to sea, after one of the country's largest recorded mass strandings.

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"Very quickly this tide has come racing in and now we're all up to our knees, some people up to their waists in water and we're starting to get a bit of floating happening," explained Amanda Harvey, from the Department of Conservation in Golden Bay, amid the rescue effort.

"We're just helping assist the whales with their breathing until the water gets deep enough so that they can swim."

Tragically, not all of those stranded survived, with some 300 carcasses littering the beach.

Around 400 whales became beached at Farewell Spit on Thursday, with 300 of those sadly dying.

Hundreds of whales refloated in New Zealand mass stranding

On Saturday, another 240 whales became beached, and mostly refloated themselves on a high tide.

Volunteers are keeping a close eye on those back in the water, with a risk of them getting into trouble again.

People have formed human chains to try and stop the refloated whales from beaching again.


Hundreds of whales refloated in New Zealand mass stranding

It's not clear why the whales keep arriving on the spit next to Golden Bay.

They are trying to travel around the top of the South Island, but may have got their navigation wrong.


It's not clear why the whales keep arriving on the spit next to Golden Bay.

In shallow waters, the animals' use of echo location can become impaired, and if whales that become beached send out distress signals, others will follow.

According to the BBC, the environmental group Project Johan has a plane flying over the bay to keep track of the movements of the whales that have been successfully refloated.