Whale dies after becoming stranded on Canterbury beach

The southern bottlenose whale. Photo: Supplied
The southern bottlenose whale. Photo: Supplied
A southern bottlenose whale has died after it became stranded on a beach near Timaru.

A Department of Conservation spokesperson said the stranding on South Beach was reported to its emergency hotline about 5.45pm on Tuesday by members of the public.

Project Jonah was alerted as was Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua.

Project Jonah volunteers went to South Beach as did two Department of Conservation staff members.

Project Jonah volunteers tried to save the whale. Photo: Supplied
Project Jonah volunteers tried to save the whale. Photo: Supplied
The whale was a small southern bottlenose, beaked whales that are a deep-water species. It's likely this whale was unwell, the volunteers said.

DOC Geraldine operations manager Duncan Toogood said when he arrived, Project Jonah volunteers told him the whale had died.

Given the size of the whale, it was likely to be a juvenile and there were no obvious signs of injury.

"It wasn't possible to retrieve the whale on Tuesday night as it was still being moved around a lot in the surf."

Toogood said three "good sized sharks" were also spotted near the whale.

Scientific samples were taken before the whale was buried in the afternoon.

Toogood said it is the first time a southern bottlenose has been found in the area that he is aware of.

A post on the Project Jonah Facebook page said the beach has several hazards. These included stones that can easily cause wounds to a stranded whale and a deep drop-off close to shore as well as a strong undertow "which was causing the whale to be rolled up the beach in the surf, highly stressful for a stranded whale," the post said.

  • Whale or dolphin strandings should be reported to the Department of Conservation emergency hotline - 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

- By Devon Bolger

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