Sperm whale stranded at south New Brighton beach dies

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Nov 04, 2023 |

The sperm whale that stranded in Christchurch has died overnight.

It was first spotted on Saturday afternoon struggling in shallow waters at South New Brighton beach attracting hundreds of onlookers.

Department of Conservation officers stayed on beach throughout the night, monitoring the Whale’s movements.

Several police officers attended to ensure no one went into the water due to the dangerous conditions.

The whale was still thought to be alive late into Saturday evening.

Environment group Project Jonah spokesman said with whales of this size there are a number of logical and health and safety considerations that must be taken into decision making.

The whale was stranded on the ocean side of a sandbar which was too deep to walk to forcing volunteers to abandon any rescue attempt.

“Large whales like this one pose a huge logistical challenge for a refloat due to their size and weight and often they have underlying health conditions.”

In New Zealand there have only been four successful refloats of sperm whales – the last one being in Timaru in 2020.

This is the fifth sperm whale that has died in the last month with three stranding in Northland and one in Mahia.

Local iwi are onsite and working with DOC to move the whale.

The Department of Conservation responds to an average of 85 stranding incidents per year, usually of single animals; the most common species being common dolphins, pygmy sperm whales and beaked whales.

On occasion mass strandings occur and the majority of these are long-finned pilot whales according to DOC.

Anyone can help out at a stranding event as long as they are physically able.

To be more prepared to help at a stranding you can attend a Marine Mammal Medic Course run by Project Jonah.

DOC said medics who have completed the course will be well equipped to help rescue stranded whales and dolphins and can act as a role model to untrained rescuers.

“Being trained by Project Jonah means you will be more aware of the rescue process, including health and safety risks, making the process run more safely and smoothly”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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