Date: 21 January 2012
Department of Conservation (DOC) staff, supported by local iwi representatives have been working today to collect samples and bury the bodies of four Gray's beaked whales which stranded and subsequently died at the isolated eastern end of Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga. Two of the whales were lactating females and the other two were young juveniles.
DOC spokesperson, Katrina Knill says that the cause of the stranding is not known, however it appears that one of the juveniles stranded first, leading to the subsequent stranding of the others as they stayed nearby.
Samples are being collected to check whether ingestion of oil, toxins or other foreign objects could have been a contributing factor to the whale stranding. No evidence has been found at this stage to suggest the stranding is related to the Rena ship wreck incident.
The Department of Conservation is the agency responsible for the protection and care of marine mammals and the public are encouraged to alert DOC of any whale strandings as quickly as possible by calling 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468), so that the necessary care be arranged for the whales and their chance of rescue increased.