Fourteen whales saved through epic whale rescue effort
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionIt’s taken three exhausting days but the battle to save the survivors of a pod of stranded pilot whales in the Far North has finally ended with fourteen whales swimming back out to sea.
Date: 24 September 2010
It’s taken three exhausting days but the battle to save the survivors of a pod of stranded pilot whales in the Far North has finally ended with fourteen whales swimming back out to sea.
The whales were released around 7.30 this evening. Three larger animals were pontooned about 700 metres off shore, while the others were corralled together then released en masse. Some swam away immediately, while others kept closer to shore.
DOC staff and volunteers working with three boats and two jet skis attempted to herd all the whales back out to sea, however over the course of the next hour, seven re-stranded.
Department of Conservation Incident Controller, Jonathan Maxwell, said there was no option but to euthanize the re-stranded whales.
“By that stage it was dark, and all of us were pretty exhausted. We all agreed we had done everything we could for these animals. The most humane course of action was to end their suffering,” said Mr Maxwell.
Despite the loss, Operations Manager, Patrick Whaley described the mood of rescuers on the beach as one of elation, knowing fourteen whales had been successfully rescued.
“When the whales were released, there was a lot of clapping and cheering,” Mr Whaley said. “Although people were obviously sad when some re-beached, everyone understood the decision to euthanize.”
Mr Maxwell had nothing but praise for all those involved.
“We are absolutely rapt with the cooperation and dedication of everyone concerned. All the volunteers, the people of Ngati Kuri, Project Jonah, Far North Whale Rescue and DOC staff from right across the North Island have been amazing.
It’s been a privilege to work with such fantastic people,” Mr Maxwell said.
Tomorrow the job of cleaning up all the equipment and burying the dead whales will begin. But tonight, rescuers will be looking forward to a good night’s sleep and a hot meal.
Ngati Kuri has opened up their marae at Ngataki, ten minutes north of the Rarawa Beach turn-off for all those needing a hot shower and a bed for the night. Another example of one of the hallmarks of this whole operation; people working together to support each other while helping to save these magnificent creatures of the seas.