Pilot whales refloat themselves after beaching in NZ

"They got themselves off actually, they didn't need any help from us", he said.

Pilot whales grow to about 25 feet and are common around New Zealand's waters.

It is unclear while whales strand, though possible theories include navigational error, unusual geographic features, illness and extreme weather events.

The mass stranding of whales on a remote beach in New Zealand took a sad twist yesterday as a new pod of 240 whales swam aground.

Then something curious happened: When the people returned Sunday morning, nearly all the surviving whales were gone.

DoC's Takaka operations manager Andrew Lamason said the whales appeared to have left the area for deeper waters - good news for the rescuers that spent much of their weekend caring for the stranded marine mammals.

In New Zealand, whale lovers were happy to know they could help so many whales, saving their lives after assisting them to refloat and swim away from the shore.

A heartbreaking scene: the water was cold but it didn't stop volunteers dedicated to trying to save the pilot whales. Unfortunately, approximately 350 whales did not survive, also counting twenty whales which needed to be euthanized.

Volunteer Imogen Harris, 11, said on Sunday they had just been waiting anxiously all day to see of the whales re-stranded. It has a long protruding coastline and gently sloping beaches that make it hard for whales to swim away once they get close.

The Department of Conservation has given the all clear, saying they were not able to spot any whales remaining in the bay. Herb Christophers, a spokesman for the Department of Conservation, stated that people seem to be very attached to marine animals. They gave them names, singing to them, basically treating them as kindred spirits. The largest was in 1918, when about 1,000 pilot whales came ashore on the Chatham Islands, situated several hundreds of kilometers east from the two main islands.

On February 10, hundred of whales were stranded along Farewell Spit, New Zealand.

  • Joey Payne