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As it happened: Farewell Spit whale rescuers sent home after a second day of heart-wrenching efforts

The latest on what's happening at Farewell Spit where a new whale stranding has followed refloating efforts today.

6.35pm:

Project Jonah have had to tell volunteers to head back to shore at Farewell Spit as the tide is rapidly rising and it's too dangerous to be in the water.

They are calling for more volunteers to come tomorrow morning, as more whales are expected to be stranded.

One volunteer told 1 NEWS it takes at least 10 people to turn a pilot whale after it has rolled onto its side when its beached and they haven't had enough help this afternoon.

There are also stingrays in the water, so Project Jonah is saying all volunteers need to head to shore as soon as possible.

The Farewell Spit rescue efforts wrap up tonight as it's too dangerous for volunteers as the tide rises rapidly. Source: 1 NEWS

5.33pm:

Around 180 more whales have stranded at Farewell Spit.

At this stage it appears many of them are new whales who have stranded for the first time, not whales that were previously floated.

A Project Jonah worker said there are groups of whales that have stranded at four different places around the coast.

A super pod of 300 whales swam within 20 metres of the human chain trying to stop whales from re-stranding at Farewell Spit today.
A super pod of 300 whales swam within 20 metres of the human chain trying to stop whales from re-stranding at Farewell Spit today. Source: Project Jonah New Zealand

Earlier in the day volunteers had been told that the stranding was over and that should head home.

Hundreds of volunteers returned to the car park for some much needed water and food.

A short while later, reports came in that more whales were close to shore and looked close to stranding.

Volunteers have now been called back, bringing buckets in a desperate attempt to keep the whales wet.

The Project Jonah worker said given these whales did not have visible signs of previous stranding injuries, it was likely that they were new whales stranded for the first time.

4.20pm:

The original pod of pilot whales have restranded, at this stage we are unsure of how many.

3.43pm:

Project Jonah medics are being called back into the water after at least 30 whales have re-stranded.

A Project Jonah medic said a group of whales appeared to be coming close to shore.

The beach is currently closed to volunteers as kaumatua bless the bodies of the dead whales.

Earlier in the day DOC and Project Jonah announced the stranding had ended and asked all volunteers to leave.

Now volunteers have been told to hold tight as there is a possibility more whales will strand.

2.45pm:

A total of 120 pilot whales were refloated today according to Project Jonah's latest update.

The whales were looked after by volunteers this morning as they waited for high tide and have since been refloated and shepherded out. 

A super pod of over 300 whales swam into the bay within 20 metres of the human chain.

Most of the refloated whales joined up with the larger pod, and Project Jonah are keeping close watch as the pod moves around Golden Bay.

They said it's been a "huge effort" from all the volunteers. 

2.25pm:

A group of volunteers and Project Jonah members are waiting for news on a possible re-strand of whales at Farewell Spit.
A group of volunteers and Project Jonah members are waiting for news on a possible re-strand whales at Farewell Spit. Source: 1 NEWS

Despite recently announcing that the beach was closed and volunteers should leave, Project Jonah and DOC have now asked volunteers to "stick around".

A Project Jonah volunteer announced there is a "possible re-strand" and that volunteers are still needed.

"There is an increased chance that there will be another stranding," said the volunteer.

She said she did not know exactly how many whales may be at risk but said it could be around 200.

2:00pm:

These guys worked desperately to flip the whale onto its belly. They succeeded, but then it rolled back onto its side. Source: 1 NEWS

With low tide on its way the decision has been made to euthanise 20 whales that were unable to be refloated this afternoon.

12:20am:

The Department of Conservation say the 300 dead carcasses will not be moved while there are live whales on the beach.

About a dozen selfless helpers frantically moved around this poor whale to get it onto its belly. Source: 1 NEWS

Local iwi have provided a karakia over the dead whales.

11.50am:

Hundreds of volunteers at Farewell Spit have formed a human chain, out in the water, to stop a pod of about 200 whales from coming into shore.

A pod of 200 whales were headed for the area where 416 animals stranded overnight on Thursday, with 70 per cent of those dying yesterday morning before rescuers could get to them.

A further 100 were found stranded this morning.

Crews are keeping an eye on the pod of whales that was refloated earlier this morning, to stop them from coming to shore as well.

11.30am: 

Golden Bay operations manager says another pod of about 200 whales swimming close to where the first pod of whales became stranded.

The 100 whales that were stranded overnight have been refloated, but there is a chance they could come back onto the beach.

11.10am:

A hundred whales have been found beached on Farewell Spit this morning following yesterday's mass stranding in which hundreds more have already died.

Meanwhile, 200 more whales have stranded on Farewell Spit 11km from the scene of yesterday's mass beaching, according to DoC.

10.35am:

The majority of about 100 whales that re-stranded at Farewell Spit overnight have been refloated.

Hundreds of volunteers are still turning up to help out with the rescue.

Our reporter Emily Cooper explained that hundreds on the ground this morning slept in cars and tents, to be close to the rescue mission. Source: 1 NEWS

High tide is expected to peak around 11am.

Meanwhile, it's not yet clear what will happen to the 300-plus dead whales still on the beach.

The Department of Conservation says they'll either be buried in the sand dunes or dragged back out to sea.

9.15am:

Volunteers who are heading to Farewell Spit are urged to make sure they have supplies and fuel before getting there.

Project Jonah New Zealand says the journey from Nelson to Puponga is about 150km. But, due to the nature of the roads, this can take more than two and a half hours.

The last town with fuel and a supermarket is Takaka, which is 50km before Puponga.

It is strongly recommended that you fuel up here, as well as stock up on high-energy snacks, food, toiletries and water.

8.05am:

An attempt to refloat more than 100 live whales will be made about 11am today.

A volunteer helps keep a stranded whale cool at Farewell Spit.
A volunteer helps keep a stranded whale cool at Farewell Spit. Source: Facebook/Project Jonah New Zealand

Huge team gathers at Farewell Spit to rescue stranded whales.
Huge team gathers at Farewell Spit to rescue stranded whales. Source: Facebook/Project Jonah New Zealand

Project Jonah New Zealand is asking volunteers if they can arrive at Triangle Flat, at Farewell Spit before 10am, please come along.

Essential equipment includes wetsuit, food, water, suncrean and a warm change of clothes.

7.50am: 

There's a good chance 50 whales that were refloated yesterday are part of the 100 or so that were found stranded this morning.

The Department of Conservation's Andrew Lamason said some volunteers slept in their cars and in paddocks overnight, to help out with this morning's rescue efforts.

"We are expecting a smaller turnout of volunteers today because less whales are stranded," he said.

However, Mr Lamason says once high tide hits at 11.30am, they won't be able to control the number of people who arrive to help.

The story so far:

1 NEWS reporter Will Hine looks at the science behind whale strandings. Source: 1 NEWS

Facebook page Project Jonah New Zealand says a huge team is at Farewell Spit this morning.

Rescue efforts resumed this morning, as dozens of stranded whales awaited the high tide.

The surviving whales were left along on the beach overnight, with volunteers pulled off the beach due to the danger of working with large animals in the dark.

There were concerns overnight that the whales that had been rescued already, which were seen milling around the low tide mark, could res-strand themselves overnight.

Hundreds of whales were stranded on Farewell Spit, many have died but there is hope left for some. Source: 1 NEWS

A total of 416 whales beached themselves yesterday morning and between 250-300 were dead when they were found.

Volunteers re-floated about 100 whales but many of those re-stranded during the day.

Rescue efforts will begin today when the tide is approaching high and the whales gain buoyancy from the water about 10.30am.

1 NEWS NOW will have full coverage when events unfold.

  • Nelson to Puponga is 150kms, but due to the nature of the roads (and the climb over Takaka Hill), this can take in excess of two and a half hours.
 
  • The last town with fuel and a supermarket is Takaka, which is 50kms before Puponga. It is STRONGLY recommended that you fuel up here, as well as stocking up on high energy snacks, food, toiletries and water.
  • Nelson to Puponga is 150kms, but due to the nature of the roads (and the climb over Takaka Hill), this can take in excess of two and a half hours.
 
  • The last town with fuel and a supermarket is Takaka, which is 50kms before Puponga. It is STRONGLY recommended that you fuel up here, as well as stocking up on high energy snacks, food, toiletries and water.
  • The last town with fuel and a supermarket is Takaka, which is 50kms before Puponga. It is STRONGLY recommended that you fuel up here, as well as stocking up on high energy snacks, food, toiletries and water.
  •  
  • The last town with fuel and a supermarket is Takaka, which is 50kms before Puponga. It is STRONGLY recommended that you fuel up here, as well as stocking up on high energy snacks, food, toiletries and water.
  •  
  • The last town with fuel and a supermarket is Takaka, which is 50kms before Puponga. It is STRONGLY recommended that you fuel up here, as well as stocking up on high energy snacks, food, toiletries and water.
  •  
It follows heartbreak earlier as whales that couldn't be refloated were euthanised. Source: 1 NEWS