Saturday, July 20, 2024

Stranded pygmy whale euthanised

A pygmy sperm whale that stranded at Paraparaumu Beach today has been humanely euthanised by Department of Conservation (DOC) staff to minimise its suffering, the Department said in a statement this afternoon.

The three-metre pygmy sperm whale washed up early this morning and despite the best efforts of DOC staff, Project Jonah, mana whenua and members of the public, could not be successfully refloated, DOC said.

“We would have preferred a different outcome, but in the circumstances, all agreed this was for the best,” said Angus Hulme-Moir, DOC Operations Manager for Kapiti-Wellington.

“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, Mr Hulme-Moir said.

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

Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai had their own bespoke marine mammal protocols, which 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, DOC said.

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.

Mr Hulme-Moir said DOC would like to thank 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 will be 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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