In one of New Zealand’s largest ever mass whale beachings, hundreds of whales washed up at Golden Bay near the northwest tip of the South Island.
Around 300 dolphins were washed up on the beach, where experts believe shallow waters confuse the animals and result in the strandings which, sadly, are common in New Zealand.
Tragically, some whales were lost in the muddy waters of the bay and some were so confused that even after being refloated they swam back to the sand and beached themselves again.
But thanks to the huge efforts of animal conservationists and volunteers, over 240 whales were successfully sent back out to sea.
“We managed to float quite a few whales off,” said volunteer Ana Wiles, “There were an awful lot of dead ones in the shallows so it was really, really sad.”
“One of the nicest things was we managed to float off a couple and they had babies, and the babies were following.”
Despite it being the third worst stranding in history, the speedy reponse meant that the majority of these gorgeous mammals were able to return to sea.
Volunteers kept the animals wet and directed them to deeper water, where the animals could use their sonar without confusion and swim safely away.