26 January, 2012
Sadly, all 33 whales that were refloated yesterday at Farewell Spit restranded overnight.
Kimberly Muncaster, Project Jonah CEO, says this is tragic news.
“Unfortunately the stranded whales are now also further along the spit and on the extreme boundary of our ability to reach them for another rescue attempt. The Department of Conservation has decided they will have to be put down,” she says.
John Mason from the Department of Conservation says the whales are showing significant signs of physical deterioration and distress. Gale warnings are also forecast for this afternoon, meaning boats wouldn’t be able to monitor the whales even if another refloat was possible.
This brings the number of whales that have died as a result of this stranding to 82.
The Project Jonah volunteers, DOC staff, and Golden Bay locals are devastated by the outcome. However, we must now focus our efforts on the 17 whales that refloated themselves on Monday night, and make sure they remain safe.
Kimberly urges people in the area to be vigilant and look for signs of a possible restranding, and check their beaches and bays regularly over the next week. If there are any sightings of pilot whales in or around Golden Bay, people should call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or 0800 4 WHALE (0800 494 253) immediately.
Project Jonah marine mammal medics in the area should also remain on high alert for the next few days and keep informed through the Project Jonah Facebook page and website in case further volunteers are needed.
Ms Muncaster praises the efforts of Project Jonah medics who have worked for three days to rescue the whales in difficult conditions, and with little sleep.
“Our volunteers have been outstanding and have put their rescue training to good use in support of the Department of Conservation’s stranding response,” she says.
“They gave everything they had.”