Six pilot whales have been euthanised by DOC staff today following a stranding on Chatham Island overnight.
DOC says the whales stranded near the town beach on Sunday night.
DOC Chathams Operations Manager, Tryphena Cracknell says about 70 whales were present initially, but most had returned to sea during the night.
“Whale strandings are not uncommon on the Chatham Islands, with the largest event recorded in 1918, when over 1000 animals died in a single stranding,” said Ms Cracknell.
“This is a small stranding by comparison, although still a solemn occasion.”
Hokotehi Moriori Trust and Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust representatives were present and joined DOC staff to perform a karakii/karakia and karanga to honour and farewell the whales.
The whales have been measured and sampled by the DOC team and will be towed out to sea to decompose naturally when the tide rises, the Department said.
DOC encourages anyone to report whale sightings and strandings, by calling the DOC hotline, 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).