By Jeanna Bryner, Live Science Managing Editor | February 12, 2017 09:02am ET
Update: Feb. 12, 9 a.m. ET:
This morning (Feb. 12), most of the 240 or so whales that had re-stranded yesterday near the original stranding site made there way back out to the shallow water during the high tide, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Then, this afternoon local time, the remaining 17 whales on the beach were refloated and sent back into the deeper waters in Golden Bay.
"The animals can only be moved while floating so work with animals is dependent on tides," the DOC's Herb Christophers told Live Science. "While the tide is out, the whales are kept cool and maintained as much as possible in an upright position. They have trouble bearing their own weight and suffocate sometimes because of the position they find themselves in when stranded."
"Two boats were used to guide the 17 whales out to rejoin the original diffuse pod, and it is hoped that they will find a way into deeper, safer waters," the DOC said in a statement.