Whales beach after rescue attempt

2012-01-24 15:15
Wellington - A pod of 40 pilot whales beached themselves on a remote New Zealand beach on Tuesday, hours after volunteers had refloated them, news reports said.

"The tide dropped so quickly, and there was a huge effort from volunteers to stop the animals restranding, but now they've grounded again," Project Jonah chief executive Kimberly Muncaster told the Nelson Mail newspaper.

"We'll be desperately trying to keep them alive until nightfall, and we hope they may refloat themselves at high tide around 11:30pm [10:30 GMT]," said the leader of the whale and dolphin protection group.

Thirty-four of a pod of 99 animals died on Monday after they beached on Farewell Spit at the top of the South Island. Nearly 30 refloated themselves overnight, and volunteers succeeded in refloating 39 survivors on the morning's high tide.

"Although the animals were refloated, they didn't move quickly enough in the right direction," Muncaster said. "We hoped it wouldn't be the case, but sadly, these animals are finding it very hard to get back out to safe waters."

She said restranding was not unusual for the 24km-long area, a wildlife refuge at the north-western extremity of the South Island.
- SAPA

Read more on:    marine life
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