Whale euthanised after stranding near Christchurch

Whale stranded at Banks Peninsula on 20 March 2024. 

A juvenile pilot whale that stranded at Kaitorete Spit in Canterbury has been euthanised.

Department of Conservation (DOC) Mahaanui operations manager Andy Thompson said efforts were made to refloat the whale, but it had been out of the water for a long time and was beginning to suffer.

The decision was made with iwi to euthanise it shortly after midday on Wednesday.

There have been several whale strandings in Canterbury in recent months.

A male sperm whale died after stranding on South Brighton Beach last November, while a juvenile fin whale died after becoming stuck at Moncks Bay in the Avon Heathcote estuary in January.

Thompson said DOC received numerous calls about the stranded pilot whale, around two kilometres south of Birdlings Flat, early this morning.

A ranger and local iwi representative working on the spit were able to get to the whale quickly, followed by a Project Jonah medic and Christchurch City Council staff.

The whale’s condition was assessed and attempts were made to refloat it – with an aircraft also sent out to fly the length of Kaitorete Spit and the southern part of Banks Peninsula, to see if the pod remained in the area as that would mean there was a risk of other whales coming ashore.

“While we were able to get the animal quite close to the water and even had the waves washing over it, we weren’t able to get it through the breakers and the chance of a successful refloat of a pilot whale, is very, very low, especially when the pod have already disappeared.”

Pilot whale strandings were not common in the area, but Thompson said Banks Peninsula attracted a wide range of whale species, as they moved around the coast.

It was not known what had led the whale to strand, and discussions would be held as to whether to take a biopsy for further analysis.

The whale would then be buried on the spit.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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