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Whale stranded at Caroline Bay, Timaru now swimming on its own

A sperm what that has been stranded at a beach in Timaru has now been refloated after rescue efforts were carried out for most of the day. 

The sperm whale is still in the water at Caroline Bay but has now come off a tension strap and is "swimmiing under its own power",  a spokesperson for the Department of Conservation says.

"The Coastguard is trying to shepherd it into deeper water. There’s still a chance it could beach again as it’s been stranded for nine hours and is exhausted, but it’s a positive step," DOC staff said tonight. 

A whale stranded at Caroline Bay, Timaru. Source: Roger Holding / Supplied

Multiple DOC staff have been at the scene trying to rescue the whale.

The port company and Project Jonah, a charity dedicated to protecting marine mammals, has been working with the Department of Conservation to come up with a plan to get the whale back out to sea with low tide approaching.

“The sperm whale is now in a much better position and we hope it will refloat itself on the high tide at 9.30pm," DOC said earlier.

"In the meantime a fishing vessel is holding tension on a strap designed to come free if the whale swims away. It’s now dark and everyone is out of the water, and there’s not much more we can do."

Late afternoon, efforts to refloat the stranded whale were unsuccessful, DOC said. 

Low tide was reportedly at 3pm which hampered rescue efforts. 

"We’re continuing our efforts with help from the Coastguard, Timaru Port and Project Jonah. Low tide has now passed and a digger is at the site and we are still attempting to get the whale into deeper water before last light," DOC said via Facebook.

"We’re asking the public to please stay away from the area for your own safety and to give us enough space to continue to try and rescue the whale."