Kapiti News

Sad end to whale rescue attempt


A pygmy sperm whale that stranded at Paraparaum­u Beach on Monday last week was euthanised humanely by Department of Conservati­on staff to minimise its suffering.

The pygmy sperm whale washed up early in the morning and despite the best efforts from DoC staff, Project Jonah, mana whenua and members of the public, could not be successful­ly refloated.

DoC and mana whenua, Atiawa ¯ ki Whakarongo­tai, agreed that it would be kindest to euthanise the three-metrelong pygmy sperm whale.

“We would have preferred a different outcome, but in the circumstan­ces, all agreed this was for the best,” DoC Ka¯pitiWellin­gton operations manager Angus Hulme-Moir said.

“Euthanasia is always a last resort, and even though it’s a kindness, it’s never easy.

“It is upsetting, but not necessaril­y uncommon, to see sick, distressed, or dying whales come into shallow water and strand.”

However, while marine mammal strandings are natural, mana whenua whale expert, Jordan HousiauxDu­stin, said strandings always raised questions for iwi about what they indicated in terms of the health of the marine environmen­t.

A¯ tiawa ki Whakarongo­tai had their own bespoke marine mammal protocols that were implemente­d at the stranding to guide all involved through the process of dealing with the stranding, both logistical­ly and in terms of supporting people’s welfare.

Iwi chair Andre Baker said it was an important expression of the rangatirat­anga of mana whenua that these protocols were followed and ensured that all parties could work together cohesively. The whale was named Kena Kena.

Hulme-Moir said DoC thanked everyone who helped with the stranding, and the group effort makes a sombre situation less difficult.

“We are grateful to the people who first reported it, local police, Project Jonah staff for their support and knowledge, the dedicated members of the public who helped the whale throughout the day and stayed through to the end.”

The whale was buried locally by iwi.

DoC encourages anyone to report whale sightings and strandings, by calling the DoC hotline, 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

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