Only 24 of several dozen pilot whales stranded on a remote northern New Zealand beach survived a stormy first night ashore despite rescuers' desperate efforts to save them, officials have said.
Large waves and strong winds lashed Spirits Bay as rescuers struggled to move survivors above the tide-line. It was the second mass beaching in the region in a month.
"As of this morning, there have been 24 live animals moved out of the tide up onto the beach out of harms' way," Department of Conservation spokeswoman Caroline Smith said.
"The weather is terrible up there. We have 20 knot winds and 1.5 to 2 metre swells, so it is not possible to refloat them at Spirits Bay."
The 80 animals were spread out over a three-mile stretch, Ms Smith said.
Officials are planning to use big nets to lift the creatures on to the back of trucks and move them to more sheltered Rarawa Beach, about an hour south, where they will be refloated.