WELLINGTON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Conservation officials were hopeful Tuesday that most of a pod of 46 stranded pilot whales had made it out to sea after finding one dead animal on the coast at the top of New Zealand's South Island.
Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers have found the dead whale on Farewell Spit and were still checking beaches in the area for any sign of the other 45 pilot whales that were refloated on Monday.
When rescuers left the Farewell Spit area late Monday, the whales had been milling in shallow water offshore for several hours, said a DOC statement.
The whales are the survivors of a pod of 71 that began stranding on Saturday.
Efforts to refloat them Saturday and Sunday ended with the whales beaching again further along the coast.
It is the third mass stranding on Farewell Spit in less than two weeks.
Twelve pilot whales died and DOC staff euthanized another 27 after a mass stranding on Jan. 6.
Another nine pilots whales were euthanized and five died after a second mass stranding on Jan. 14.