At the weekend, around 145 whales were discovered stranded on a remote beach on Stewart Island, south of New Zealand's South Island.
There is no clear reason why the pilot whales stranded themselves on the Victorian beach, incident controller Michael Turner said, but it is thought the humpback whale may have died in a separate incident and washed up on the same shore by coincidence.
The hard decision was made to euthanize the remaining whales to put an end to their suffering. Due to difficulty accessing the location and the unhealthy condition of the remaining whales, the DOC made a decision to euthanize them.
Overnight, the creatures were safeguarded in a shallow stream to relieve the pressures on their bodies as the countdown began to re-float them offshore.
"It is a remote area, not really accessible by foot unless you walk the beach", Mr Turner said. Towels were draped across their bodies to protect the skin against the elements.
The shooting of the remaining whales was prompted by the remote situation of the island as well as the lack of adequate personel as well as the deteriorating heaslth of the whales.
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"They might have lost their bearings, or one got sick and beached itself and the others went to help", he told AAP. "It's actually phenomenal to see how in tune they are with each other".
In a posting on social media, Project Jonah praised the volunteers and members of the public who "worked around the clock" looking after the whales.
"For all of those who were involved over the last few days, keep in mind to look after yourself".
A stranded whale is not a rare sight in New Zealand, where some 85 incidents are being reported every year.
Exactly why whales and dolphins strand is not fully known but factors can include sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, being chased by a predator, and extreme weather.