Dead whales line Farewell Spit after one of New Zealand's largest mass strandings. Photo by The Guardian Newspaper

No new beached whales today

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To the relief of volunteers and helpers, there have been no new stranded whales found in Golden Bay today.

The pilot whales that were re-floated in the area were last seen yesterday evening about 6 km offshore swimming towards Separation Point at the northern end of Abel Tasman National Park.

DOC rangers searched the coastline on the western side of Golden Bay this morning, as well as the inner side of Farewell Spit and have confirmed no stranded live whales remain.

The area of Farewell Spit with the dead whales is currently closed to the public because of the risk of whales exploding.

The next task is now to move the dead whales with a digger further up Farewell Spit to the area of the nature reserve that is not open to the public, where they can decompose naturally.

After the whales have been moved away, the area will be opened again for public walking access.

It could take several months for the dead whales to fully decompose to skeletons.

Most of the dead pilot whales from the stranding are on the shore but some of the whales drifting at sea could wash up on beaches in Tasman bays.

Anyone who sees dead whales washed ashore is asked to report them to DOC on 0800 36 24 68. Rangers will then remove the dead whales or take other appropriate steps.