It took two days and a lot of effort, but a group of volunteers created a human chain and were able to successfully refloat a pod of long-finned pilot whales that were stranded at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
“I’m just doing what I can, it’s not something I’ve done before and it’s not how I hoped to see whales. I just hope we can help them live and survive,” says one of the volunteers who took part in the human chain. “It’s always fantastic to see whales out in deeper water where they should be,” says Louisa Hawkes, a spokesperson for Project Jonah, the whale rescue group that was part of the rescue mission along with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.
A total of 28 long-finned pilot whales have safely guided back to deep waters thanks to a human chain composed of 150 people who helped the stranded animals to re-orientate but also to keep them together, “otherwise there’s a risk of re-stranding if they take off on their own,” says Darren Foxwell, the Department of Conservation whale stranding operations manager.