A concerted effort by a hardworking community to save a stranded pod of dolphins at Mahia Peninsula has had a sorry outcome after the creatures returned to strand again.

The pod of 35-40 false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins stranded on Sunday afternoon at Taylor’s Beach on Mahia Peninsula.

They were refloated at high tide at about 3.30pm, assisted by the local community.

However, the Department of Conservation later confirmed the entire pod re-stranded at a remote and inaccessible reef point further south on Mahia Peninsula.

DOC staff assessed the whales and dolphin, deeming they had an extremely low chance of being refloated and surviving.

DOC Gisborne Operations Manager Matt Tong says officials have made the difficult decision to euthanise the animals to prevent them suffering overnight.

“This is a sad outcome for these whales, particularly after the successful refloating earlier today. However, they are clearly suffering and euthanising them is the most humane course of action.”

The stranding incident was first reported to DOC at about 2pm Sunday afternoon. A DOC team travelled from Gisborne to Taylor’s Bay, arriving by 5pm — by which time the whales had been initially refloated.

DOC thanked volunteers, iwi and the local community, who went to the beach to assist with initial refloating of the whales.

A DOC spokesperson said in a statement that whale and dolphin strandings were common in New Zealand.

“Why they strand is not fully known but factors can include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, being chased by a predator or extreme weather.

“Most of the stranded pod are false killer whales — a species of dolphin — with a small number of bottlenose dolphins.”