Pod of whales stranded in Coromandel, locals asked to stay away

Up to 60 whales are stranded or at risk of stranding at Colville Bay. Photo / Mike Donoghue

A group of locals are trying to save a pod of whales stranded in the Coromandel, with the next high tide not until 9pm this evening.

A group of 40-60 whales are stranded in Colville Bay and staff from the Department of Conservation, nonprofit organisation Project Jonah and locals are on site.

The Department of Conservation Coromandel district operations manager Nick Kelly said between 40-60 pilot whales across two separate pods were involved.

One pod is stranded in the shallows while the second pod is further out and is being shepherded to sea, Kelly said.

Around 25 whales are stranded on mudflats at the site.

“Unfortunately the next high tide is around 9pm tonight,” he said.

The public are being asked to stay away from the site.

“We appreciate public’s concern and we have staff on-site who are accepting items such as buckets, blankets or food for our staff to contribute to the effort,” he said.

“But a key point for us is asking the public to stay away from the site to allow us to do our job,” he said.

“We have six DOC staff on-site, and they are supported by rural fire brigade and members of the local iwi.”

A group of 20 volunteer mammal medics from Project Jonah are also helping the refloat mission.

The alarm was raised earlier this morning by locals who saw the whales milling but not yet stranded, says Project Jonah communications manager Louisa Hawkes.

The Project Jonah team are “so appreciative” of volunteers who raised the alarm early, says Hawkes.

She says the volunteers’ early call probably saved the second pod from stranding.

“The locals called it in really early, we were able to get people down there really early and so we’ve got a really good framework for a good response,” she says.

“We are so appreciative.”


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