Volunteers were relieved to find no sign of stranded whales on the beach at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay this morning.
DOC and Project Jonah marine mammal medics were helped by locals and holidaymakers to refloat 18 long-finned pilot whales after they stranded on Friday.
“The whales gave us a few nervous hours as we watched them regain stability and then finally head out to sea,” says Project Jonah CEO Kimberly Muncaster.
“Several times they headed back toward the shore but we shepherded them out toward open ocean with our boats until they finally swam away.”
However people in the area are asked to be vigilant and look for signs of a possible re-stranding says Ms Muncaster.
“Basically, 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,” she says.
Long-finned pilot whales are regular mass stranders on New Zealand shores, especially in the peak stranding season from November through to March.
Project Jonah runs year-round marine mammal medic courses to train volunteers to assist the Department of Conservation at whale strandings around the country.