DOC forced to euthanise stranded pilot whale

A juvenile pilot whale which was stranded on a Banks Peninsula beach on Wednesday morning has been euthanised.

Local residents, DOC rangers and representatives from Project Jonah worked to re-float the whale after it was found about 3km from Birdlings Flat.

However, a Project Jonah New Zealand spokesperson said this afternoon DOC had to euthanise the whale.

"Kia ora, the decision to euthanise is made by Department of Conservation often in consultation with other agencies who are on the beach including Project Jonah and Iwi," the spokesperson said.

"It's not a decision that is made lightly and is always done with the welfare of the whale front and centre.

Photo: George Heard
Photo: George Heard
"Thank you to everyone who helped with this beautiful animal today. Nga mihi and look after yourselves."

Department of Conservation mahaanui operations manager Andy Thompson said: “Sadly the stranded juvenile pilot whale at Kaitorete has been euthanised for the wellbeing of the animal.”

“This difficult decision was made after refloating was not possible due to the very challenging conditions, including a steep beach and large waves.”

“The whale had been out of the water for a number of hours and was beginning to suffer so the decision was made based on the animal’s welfare,” Thompson said.

Birdlings Flat whale at Birdlings Flat Photo: Facebook
Birdlings Flat whale at Birdlings Flat Photo: Facebook
DoC staff confirmed there were no other pilot whales in the area. It is still not known why the whale stranded.

“While we do not regularly see pilot whales stranding on Kaitorete, the Banks Peninsula area is a hotspot for a wide range of marine life including whales. It is not unusual for pilot whales to be in this area,” Thompson said.

This morning residents were trying to keep the whale alive by digging a moat as the waves came in. DOC had been hoping to re-float it at high tide about 1.30pm.

It comes after a 7m whale stranded near Moncks Bay on January 28 died the following day. Another whale stranded on the sandbar at South New Brighton Beach in November also died, despite efforts from environmental organisations to rescue it.