21 August 2010
More than 30 Project Jonah volunteers from as far away as Auckland have assisted members of Far North Whale Rescue, locals and DOC to move, care for and refloat the survivors of yesterdays mass stranding of pilot whales in Northland.
The alarm was raised on Friday morning when 49 pilot whales were discovered on Karikari Beach. Sadly 34 had already died.
Rescuers worked throughout the night to keep the surviving whales alive and as comfortable as possible.
"It was back-breaking work. We bucketed water throughout the night and did all we could to keep the whales as cool and as calm as possible. Two didn't make it. Those volunteers looking after those animals were so devastated. It was heartbreaking to watch", said Project Jonah volunteer Amber Soldier.
Thirteen whales were moved the following day by flat-bed trailers across the peninsula to Maitai Bay where calmer conditions enabled them to be refloated. Rescuers held and rocked the whales for several hours before releasing them just before high tide on Saturday afternoon.
In total nine whales made it safely out to sea and were last seen moving in a north-easterly direction.
Kimberly Muncaster CEO of Project Jonah, present at the stranding, praised the team work of all involved and in particular the fantastic effort of local people who worked throughout the night and today to care for the whales.
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