Three Gray's beaked whales beached and died on Great Barrier Island despite rescue efforts.
© Sarah Dwyer
Three Gray's beaked whales beached and died on Great Barrier Island despite rescue efforts.
Three Gray's beaked whales have died despite the Department of Conservation's (DOC's), efforts to save them.

One adult whale and two juveniles were found cast at Whangaparapara on Great Barrier Island on Monday evening, DOC confirmed.

Unfortunately, one of the whales was already dead but DOC managed to successfully refloat the other two.

Over the next two days the other two whales were found dead onshore, DOC operations manager George Taylor said.

"Our staff put in a big effort to rescue these animals - we got them refloated and then stayed with them as long as we could, but ultimately that wasn't enough to save them."

"Naturally, we are all disappointed and saddened at the loss of these magnificent creatures."

Taylor said there was no obvious reason why the whales had come ashore.

Scratch marks from rubbing against rocks during stranding and cookie-cutter shark wounds and scars were typical of the injuries seen on Gray's beaked whales, which are among the most commonly stranded species along New Zealand's east coast, Taylor said.

DOC staff worked with Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea to ensure the dead whales were given an appropriate farewell and burial following collection of routine samples and measurements.