Stranded beaked whale dies

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA GEE

A stranded whale that was re­floated by mem­bers of the pub­lic last week was later found dead on a Motueka beach.

On Fri­day, Pro­ject Jonah and the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion were no­ti­fied of a 4-5 me­tre long stranded whale on Jack­ett Is­land.

Pro­ject Jonah vol­un­teer man­ager Louisa Hawkes said one of its trained medics no­ticed a dis­cus­sion about the whale strand­ing on the Motueka Buy and Sell Facebook page.

‘‘It was a fan­tas­tic com­mu­nity ef­fort with a sad out­come, but they should be proud of how they pulled to­gether.’’

Hawkes said the whale was thought to be a Cu­vier’s beaked whale, which typ­i­cally lived in deeper wa­ters.

It was thought the whale stranded early on Fri­day af­ter­noon and it was re­floated by mem­bers of the pu­bic but it came back into shore.

‘‘It is of­ten the case when they do come in close to land that they have stranded for a rea­son and that is nor­mally sick­ness.’’

Pro­ject Jonah were no­ti­fied and li­aised with lo­cal De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion staff and some of the peo­ple who were with the whale, to ad­vise them on what to do.

‘‘The ad­vice we give at whale strand­ings is to help re­store the equi­lib­rium of the whale, when they are stranded on land they can of­ten get quite dis­ori­ented, so by rock­ing it from side to side it helps the whale to re­gain its bal­ance.’’

Af­ter it was re­floated, the whale swam out into deeper wa­ter, fol­lowed by a few boats.

‘‘The last re­port on Fri­day around 10pm was that it was swim­ming strongly out the chan­nel.’’

How­ever, the whale was found dead on the beach on Satur­day morn­ing.

‘‘It is a re­ally un­for­tu­nate end to what looked like a re­ally pos­i­tive sit­u­a­tion but what it has done is strengthen the com­mu­nity.’’

Hawkes said those in­volved with the strand­ing had sup­ported each other through hope, panic and cel­e­bra­tion fol- lowed by dis­ap­point­ment and sad­ness.

She said the com­mu­nity needed to be con­grat­u­lated for com­ing to­gether to give the whale ‘‘ev­ery chance pos­si­ble’’.

De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion Motueka op­er­a­tions man­ager Chris Golding said ac­cess to the strand­ing site was dif­fi­cult and DOC was con­sid­er­ing whether to move the whale to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion to re­duce the risk to boat­ies.

He said a ‘‘big thanks’’ was in or­der for the Jack­ett Is­land locals and Pro­ject Jonah vol­un­teers who as­sisted with re­float­ing the whale on Fri­day.

BECS GREANEY

The Cu­vier’s beaked whale that stranded on Jack­ett Is­land and later died.

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