You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
A rescue mission is under way for a whale in trouble off Caroline Bay in Timaru.
Meanwhile, the Department of Conservation is working to move a second stranded whale to a burial site after it died two days ago at Whakatete Bay, north of Thames.
DoC confirmed on Sunday its staff were attending to the second whale in Timaru. They suspected it was a sperm whale and are asking people to stay clear of the area.
“DoC staff are on scene, and it looks like the whale is still offshore near the port. It’s still in the water but may have run aground,” a spokesperson said.
“We are working with Project Jonah and the port company to plan next steps.”
Project Jonah general manager Daren Grover said at 12.30pm the whale was still surrounded by water, but the tide was going out.
He estimated the whale weighed 10 tonnes or more and said there was no specific rescue equipment for a whale of this size.
Rescuers are using a wide set rope which will be placed around the body of the whale and attached to a powerful fishing boat at the other end to try and move it into deeper water.
“We’re going to be gentle and respect that it’s a highly stressed wild animal”, Grover said.
He said there may be an underlying problem with the whale-like sickness, an injury or that it’s just old and close to dying. In that case, the whale might return to the shore even if they do manage to move it into deeper water.
One onlooker took a video of the scene and tweeted: “My heart aches. Stranded whale here in Timaru. Waiting to be told what to do, may need all hands on deck team!”.
Just two days ago a Bryde’s whale was stranded at Whakatete Bay, north of Thames, but it died.
DoC staff shifted the whale from Whakatete Bay on Saturday and tried to bring it onshore to take it to a burial site, but weather conditions made it too difficult.
Staff are working again to bring it on shore at high tide on Sunday and were having more success, with a large number of spectators standing by.