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More whales are stranded at the top of the South Island despite efforts by Department of Conservation staff and volunteers to guide them into deeper water.
DOC said 50 pilot whales were now stranded at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay. Forty of these whales were found beached this morning.
While they were successfully refloated at around noon, they had since restranded and have been joined by another 10 whales, DOC said.
"A further six whales are still in the sea."
Staff and Project Jonah volunteers would remain with the whales until dark, using buckets of sea water to keep them as comfortable as possible.
John Mason, DOC Takaka conservation services manager, said the whales should come afloat in the midnight high tide.
He hoped they would find their way out to sea once they could move, but said there was a real risk some or all of them could restrand.
Today's beachings come days after eight whales were euthanised after stranding themselves twice at Farewell Spit on. A ninth whale, which had not been seen at the beach, also had to be put down after it became stranded.
Last week 27 pilot whales had to be put down after becoming beached at the spit. A further 12 had already died from natural causes after being stranded.