Introduction

“All the help we can get” is the plea from DOC for tomorrow’s planned whale re-float in the Far North.

Date:  23 September 2010

6.00pm

“All the help we can get” is the plea from the Department of Conservation (DOC) for tomorrow’s planned whale re-float in the Far North.

A huge effort has gone into keeping the surviving 24 whales alive during today, with more required tomorrow morning when they’re moved from Spirits Bay to Rarawa Beach.

A crew of 100 volunteers and 60 DOC staff has worked tirelessly through the day to move the survivors from a 5km stretch of beach to the stream at the southern end of Spirits Bay.

By mid afternoon, all but three of the whales had been shifted using mats and hoists and in the case of a small whale, several rescuers carried the mat themselves.

An incident management team has spent the afternoon scrambling together the eight trucks, more mats, hay bales – and the people needed to help move the whales.

“There’s no getting around the fact that we need person power, especially at Rarawa Beach tomorrow morning. The task of carefully unloading and attempting to re-float the whales is a big one, which needs a lot of planning and structured implementation. Everyone’s been great today and we’re looking forward to a similar response tomorrow.”

Anyone wanting to help should contact the Department of Conservation first on 09 4086014, then drive to Rarawa Beach. Warm wetsuits and wind-proof clothing are a must.

Strong seas and gusty winds have been complicating factors in the rescue effort, preventing a re-float at Spirits Bay itself.

“Things haven’t been easy and would be totally unmanageable without the volunteer contribution we’re getting,” Mr Maxwell said. “We’re giving the surviving whales our combined best shot. People who have helped in the last couple of days should feel very proud of their efforts and know that the Department is extremely grateful.”

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