Whale washes ashore at Glenburn Station
A blue whale suspected to be the same one spotted dead in the water near d’Urville Island has washed ashore on the Wairarapa coast near Flat Point.
The whale was found on the beach at Glenburn Station, which is owned by John McFadzean.
He was alerted the whale carcass was in the water off the beach on September 19 by one of his employees.
‘‘Jimmy Mason lives down by the beach in a bach close to the shore and saw something in the water and realised it wasn’t a rock when he saw birds pecking at it. We thought it might float away but the next day it had washed up.
‘‘I contacted DOC and they sent people out here to take a look, we had a sperm whale wash up about a year ago further south but apparently it is pretty rare for a blue whale to wash up in NZ waters.
‘‘It was interesting seeing it up close. The baleen in its mouth looked it was made of plastic, pretty amazing.’’
Department of Conservation ranger Robbie Shaw took measurements of the whale on Thursday morning finding the length to be 21.1 metres, the flippers 2.8 metres, the jaw length 3.9 metres and the tail width was 5.2 metres.
Blue whales can grow up to 30 metres in length, and are the largest known living mammal on the planet, so DOC staff on site thought the whale was probably not fully grown.
Shaw said the whale was probably the same one seen floating near d’Urville Island near Nelson last week.
‘‘It probably floated through the Cook Strait and up this way, the currents do that sort of thing.’’
Massey University’s Stuart Hunter took samples from the whale to send to marine ecologist Leigh Torres of Oregon State University who has been studying blue whales off New Zealand since 2015.
Hunter said researchers would be able to study DNA samples of the blubber to determine where the whale was from as well as test the amount of heavy metals in the whale’s system.
‘‘In some whales it is even possible to measure the type of hormones present in the blubber at the time of death to get an idea of what may have happened to it.’’
‘‘I’ll cut out some of the blubber and some muscle tissue to send off for sampling.’’
The whale was 21.1 metres in length though they can grow up to 30 metres.