It's a sight nobody wants to see, especially sailors who often have a chance at an inspiring (not too close) encounter. Over 50 whales were discovered on the shore at New Zealand's Farewell Spit, a fairly remote beach on the far northern tip of the South Island. Sadly it was the fifth time the whales tried to beach themselve on this beach, 22 of whom previously did not survive.
Tragic sight - whales beached in New Zealand. If not rescued rapidly they will perish
Fifty-three of the animals had been discovered along the beach after swimming up on shore, said John Mason with the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
Teams of volunteers successfully delivered 40 of the pilot whales back to deeper water, and most of them appeared to be fine, although 10 appeared to be still at risk and lingering near the shore, Mason said from Golden Bay.
'What we have is quite a large pod and we have had to chase them along,' Mason said. Local helpers were getting better at keeping the whales, obviously confused, out to sea. 'If they come back in we have found making human chains to splash and guide them to deeper water is the most effective way to help them to safety.'
Rescuing a whale can be a difficult process
Officials have been calling in volunteers with wet suits or boats to help the whales and monitor their path.
Mason said it is not unusual to have whales beaching themselves at Farewell Spit, a long hooked sandy area that forms the top of Golden Bay where the shallows appear to confuse the animals.
However, this was one of the more extreme beachings.