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Stranded-whale rescue attempt takes heartbreaking turn

The internet is following the somber story of a stranded adult humpback whale and a young calf in New Zealand.

Volunteers from rescue group Project Jonah are attempting to save a stranded whale.

Project Jonah

Sad news from Baylys Beach in New Zealand. After a humpback whale and calf got stranded over the weekend, triggering the mobilization of volunteers from marine rescue group Project Jonah, Project Jonah announced the smaller whale had died

The New Zealand Department of Conservation believed the pair to be a mother and her baby.

Project Jonah is a charity organization that's been rescuing whales since 1974. The group says New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world, with around 300 whales and dolphins getting stranded on its shores each year.   

Volunteers attempted to get the larger whale back into the water by digging a channel into the beach with the hope that high tide would help float the animal to freedom. 

***STRANDING UPDATE*** A large channel has now been dug and we are preparing for a refloat on the high tide at 4.30pm. Misters are being used to keep the whale as cool as possible. Thank you to everyone who has come down to help with buckets, baking and kind words and for the support from our online community. Kia kaha.

Posted by Project Jonah New Zealand on Sunday, August 5, 2018

Volunteers brought in heavy machinery to dig a channel for the rescue attempt.

Project Jonah

The effort failed, and Project Jonah says it will assess the whale's health and determine if any further steps can be taken.  

Videos and photos from the scene shared on Facebook and Twitter showed dozens of volunteers holding water buckets and contributing to the channel-digging efforts. Concerned internet users are following the drama on social media. 

"This whale is so big that we cannot safely pour water (and we don't throw the water or spray with a hose) or place wet towels so we now have misters and sprays on site to keep the whale cool and to stop from overheating," Project Jonah said in an update.

The rescue group says the whales had no obvious signs of injury and may have gotten stranded accidentally when swimming too close to the shore. Now it's a matter of waiting for Project Jonah's next news update.