Info: NZ rescue teams battle to save (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 14 Feb 1996 07:55:35

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Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 07:54:20 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Williamson <>
Subject: Info: NZ rescue teams battle to save (fwd)
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Date: Wed, 14 Feb 96 12:05:00 UTC 0000
Subject: NZ rescue teams battle to save
NZ rescue teams battle to save stranded whales
    NELSON, New Zealand, Feb 14 (Reuter) - Rescue teams fought
to save 27 pilot whales beached at the top of New Zealand's
South Island on Wednesday.
     Five other whales from an original pod of 32 had died by
midday and Department of Conservation (DOC) spokesman Geoff
Rennison said rescuers were battling to save the remainder.
     "We've got 27 live whales and we are busy working with them
at the moment," he said in a telephone interview.
     Rennison said it was unclear how long the whales had been
stranded on Farewell Spit or whether they could be saved. The
tide was out and they were not covered by water at all.
     "They're not in the water at the moment, they're on the
beach," he said.
     "All I can say is we've been working with the whales to
minimise their shock, cover them up with sheets, put water on
them, get them stabilised and hopefully refloat them
     A DOC rescue team and a group of volunteers was onits way
to the site to help, and more volunteers had been called for.
     Shelley Pomeroy, of the Farewell Spit Visitors Centre, said
the whales were stranded two km (1.25 miles) from the base of
the spit and were discovered early on Wednesday.
     "My guess is it happened last night and when the tide went
out they got caught. The tide goes out very quickly here, and
before they knew it they were on their bellies."
     High tide was at six p.m. (0500 GMT).
     "As soon as the water reaches the whales, we will move them
into a very tight group, hold them until we think conditions are
appropriate, and then we will release them to the sea and
hope," Rennison said.
     "We just give it our best shot."
     About 30 pilot whales grounded themselves at Tapata Creek,
near the base of Farewell Spit, in January last year but were
successfully guided back to sea by DOC staff and volunteers.
     NELSON, New Zealand (Reuter) - Rescuers saved 27 whales
which ran aground at the top ofNew Zealand's South Island
Wednesday but said they feared a much larger group was at risk
of becoming beached.
     Thirteen conservation staff, helped by about 120 volunteers,
spent several hours tending the stricken pilot whales and
pouring water over them.
     By early evening the tide had come in and the rescuers
successfully refloated the 27 mammals and steered them out to
sea. Seven of the original group of 34 whales died earlier in
the day.
     Kaye Stark of the Department of Conservation said there were
fears the disoriented whales could run aground again. "Our
concern is that they will swim in a semi-circle and strand
further down the spit," she said.
     Radio New Zealand said a much larger group of 150 whales had
been spotted farther out to sea, and a plane would be sent up at
first light on Thursday to check whether any more of the
creatures were in danger.