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Whales Restrand Despite Huge Volunteer Effort

January 24, 2012

Whales Restrand Despite Huge Volunteer Effort

Forty whales have restranded at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, despite a huge effort by volunteers to refloat the animals just before lunchtime.

Project Jonah volunteers who have worked since first light to refloat the whales are now digging deep to restart emergency first aid for the stranded animals.

“The tide dropped so quickly and there was a huge effort from volunteers to stop the animals restranding, but now they’re grounded again.

“We’ll be desperately trying to keep them alive until nightfall and we hope they may refloat themselves at high tide around 11.30pm,” says Project Jonah CEO Kimberly Muncaster.

“When we refloated the whales we knew there was every chance they could end up back on the beach, we hoped it wouldn’t be the case but sadly these animals are finding it very hard to get back out to safe waters.”

“This kind of restranding is not unusual for Golden Bay. Although the animals were refloated they didn’t move quickly enough in the right direction,” says Ms Muncaster.

A pod of about 17 whales that refloated overnight continue to make their way out of the bay and were last reported to have about 28 metres of water beneath them.

Alongside the Department of Conservation, over 50 Project Jonah volunteers came to the aid of the more than 90 whales that stranded yesterday (subs: January 23, 2012).

Many Project Jonah volunteers spent the night camped out in the car park at Farewell Spit and were ready to continue the rescue operation at first light this morning.

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Well equipped, trained volunteers came from as far as Invercargill and Australia to help.

“Our volunteers have been amazing, the conditions here aren’t easy. It’s very hot, and saving whales can be really hard work, especially when there are so many of them,” says Ms Muncaster.

“Project Jonah medics are well trained in handling an event like this, and those located in the areas surrounding Golden Bay are becoming well accustomed to how things work. But it’s hard on them when the animals restrand, especially after the volunteers have worked so tirelessly to get the animals to safety.”

Project Jonah has been actively saving stranded whales for more than 25 years. Through dedicated training and education programmes, Project Jonah provides an emergency service for stranded whales and dolphins in New Zealand. It relies solely on volunteers and donations to carry out its work.

To make a donation to Project Jonah or to learn more about becoming a Marine Mammal Medic go to


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