DOC staff are responding to whale stranding near Haast on the West Coast.

Update 4 pm

Unable to save Okuru pilot whales

Update 12.30 pm

Whales stranded on beach near Haast.
Whales stranded on beach near Haast

We were alerted to pilot whales stranded at the mouth of the Okuru River, south of Haast, yesterday afternoon (4 April). 

A refloat of the whales wasn’t possible yesterday because of dangerous sea conditions, with a high swell, and because the tide was receding. It would have been too dangerous to carry out a refloat of the whales in darkness in the overnight high tide. 

DOC staff this morning found 38 whales, 10 of which are alive. 33 are on the south side of the Okuru river mouth and five to the north. 

On the south side of the 33, eight are alive. To the north, two of the five are alive. 

DOC staff, Makaawhio iwi members and local people are currently keeping the whales as comfortable as they can. 

We are assessing whether it is safe and feasible to refloat the whales around high tide about 2 pm this afternoon. The whales to the south are on the sand bar between the lagoon and the sea which is a dangerous place for people to be, particularly close to high tide. 

The sea there is very dangerous with strong currents so it’s not safe for people to be in the sea refloating the whales. 

Yesterday, 32 stranded pilot whales were found,11 of which were alive. It appeared that the whales had been there about 12 hours when found.    

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