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Daring Land Transfer Exercise Planned For Stranded Whales

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Daring Land Transfer Exercise Planned For Stranded Whales

The 24 pilot whales stranded at Spirits Bay will be moved by truck and trailer units later today to Rarawa Beach.

The plucky whales spent last night with carers in a stream at the southern end of the bay. They will be lifted onto the trailer units and driven 50km south to Rarawa Beach.

Whale researcher Karen Stockin was on site yesterday and said the survivors were in very good condition, "Much better than the whales which stranded last month at Karikari. These whales had obviously recently eaten and appear strong."

Vehicles, boats, hay bales, flotation mats, vast quantities of food and lots of people comprised yesterday's resource request list for the daring rescue exercise. Plenty of padding and wet covering are required to keep the whales safe on their land journey.

The load, drive, unload and refloat exercise is expected to take most of the day and more volunteers have been sought to assist at Rarawa Beach.

Safety considerations will be paramount, said incident controller Jonathon Maxwell.

"This is a complex operation at each stage but particularly once we start moving the whales back into the water. The combination of factors we have at this stranding is a bit unusual too, so we need to be extra careful in how we plan and execute the rescue effort."

The Department of Conservation is extremely grateful for the help it is receiving from volunteers and especially the Te Hapua community, Mr Maxwell said.

"Food, shelter and on the ground assistance have all been willingly offered and there's a great spirit of co-operation. Everyone is looking forward to a good outcome today."

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