Whale washes ashore at Glen­burn Sta­tion

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - ILLYA MCLELLAN

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.’’

ILLYA MCLELLAN/STUFF

The whale was 21.1 me­tres in length though they can grow up to 30 me­tres.

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