Coromandel beachgoers help re-float stranded pilot whales

Source: 1News

Surviving pilot whales of a pod stranded on Matarangi Beach in the Coromandel have been refloated.

Holidaymakers and locals rallied this morning to wet down the pod in which four died, but seven survived.

A Department of Conservation spokesperson told 1 NEWS they have refloated the seven survivors.

The pilot whales are being escorted by boats out of the estuary at Matarangi and towards the open sea.

Four pilot whales that died are being buried above the high tide mark at Matarangi Beach.

Adam Eynon-Richards was one of the beachgoers helping keep them alive and also assisting with the refloat. He told 1 NEWS it was awesome being able to get them back out there. 

"It's a pretty big animal but the DOC workers were talking us through it," said Mr Eynon-Richards.

"Helping a pilot whale and seeing it swim off is a very rewarding thing," he said.

DOC staff lead the stranding response and there were around 1000 people at the beach helping. 

Before the refloat, the surviving pilot whales were being cared for on the sand by volunteers who kept them comfortable, covering them with sheets and buckets of seawater.

Police, rural fire staff, Project Jonah and the harbourmaster were all at the scene assisting.

One beachgoer, Daniek Wijdeven, said the pilot whales were located by the bar between Whangapoua and Matarangi.

Matarangi local Maria Matchett told 1 NEWS she was alerted to them when a local volunteer firefighter discovered them on a walk this morning.