27 Nov 2018

Pygmy whales put down after returning to shore

1:53 pm on 27 November 2018

Two pygmy whales have been put down after efforts to refloat them and another six others in Northland.

Volunteers and DoC staff help the pygmy whales.

Volunteers and DoC staff help the pygmy whales. Photo: Project Jonah / Facebook

A team of volunteers and Department of Conservation staff attempted to refloat the mammals after twelve of them stranded on Ninety Mile Beach in Northland two days ago.

Four other whales died before refloatation efforts could begin.

Last night Department of Conservation staff lifted the surviving pygmy whales on to trailers filled with straw, covered them in wet sheets, and moved them to Rarawa Beach on the East Coast in an effort to refloat them.

The teams took the mammals out on pontoons during the high tide just before midday.

All eight were refloated but two returned to shore in a bad condition and both had to be euthanised.

DOC staff said six others have been refloated but remain close to the shore, which is concerning.

Staff are closely monitoring them.