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New Zealand volunteers refloat 28 whales in rescue effort

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Volunteers in New Zealand were optimistic they could save the 28 whales that remain from a mass-stranding after refloating them Tuesday for the second time in two days. A pod of 49 long-finned pilot whales was first found stranded early Monday on Farewell Spit, a remote beach on the South…

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Volunteers in New Zealand were convinced that they could save the 28 whales which remain out of a mass-stranding later refloating them Tuesday for the second time in two days.
A pod of 49 long-finned pilot whales was first found stranded early Monday on Farewell Spit, a remote beach on the South Island. Twenty-one of those whales have since expired.
Volunteers first managed to refloat the whales on Monday night’s high tide. But sometime overnight, the whales beached themselves again. So the volunteers refloated them again on Tuesday.
Louisa Hawkes, a spokesperson for nonprofit whale rescue team Project Jonah, said the whales had moved into deeper ocean than on the first attempt, providing them more hope.
“They’ve gone much further out than yesterday,” she said. “We’re cautiously optimistic they won’t come back.”
She explained it is fairly normal for pilot whales to restrand themselves once or twice before swimming away.
Up to 200 volunteers helped maintain the whales calm and healthy while they had been beached.
With guidance from Project Jonah and Department of Conservation rangers, the volunteers drenched the whales with buckets of water and kept them upright to ensure the animals did not put too much strain on their fins.
After refloating the whales, the volunteers then formed human chains from the water to try and prevent them swimming back to shore.
Hawkes said that on Tuesday they utilized an inflatable pontoon to transfer one whale outside into deeper sea in the hopes it might call to its pod mates to follow. After the whales had swum a little ways, she stated, boats replaced humans in forming a barrier to the shore.
“It has been a huge community effort,” she explained.
The stranded whales were noticed by a tour operator early Monday in an area…
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