On the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, there’s a narrow stretch of sand that stretches out atop Golden Bay. It’s called the Farewell Spit, and it’s trouble for pilot whales. The whales regularly end up stranded there — no one knows quite why. But just in the past few weeks, two sets of about 50 whales ended up beached on the spit.

Human volunteers gathered to help refloat the whales — even as the whales, for whatever reason, were having a hard time figuring out that they might want to head towards the open ocean, instead of back towards the beach. But the volunteers got 46 of them back on the right track. Watch:

[protected-iframe id=”3fd51cd89a9d6b5effc1bb1558fd3a45-5104299-2589372″ info=”http://embedded-video.guardianapps.co.uk/?a=false&u=/world/video/2014/jan/20/whales-refloated-new-zealand-video” width=”470″ height=”397″ frameborder=”0″]

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!