A three-metre pygmy sperm whale that stranded repeatedly at Waihi Beach on Monday afternoon was euthanised by Department of Conservation staff to minimise its suffering.
In a community effort, members of the public responded to the distressed animal at 2:30 pm on Monday, including iwi representatives, surf club members, New Zealand Police and DOC.
The animal had been refloated once by 5 pm, but restranded itself. The decision to euthanise was made based on the welfare of the animal combined with the tide and poor sea conditions. There was a low likelihood of a successful refloating at the next high tide at 2 am.
DOC's Services Manager in Tauranga, Jeff Milham, says this is a timely reminder of the important work DOC does in partnership with communities to respond to wildlife emergencies and fires.
“We’re extremely thankful for the local help with this incident, especially the prompt and detailed report from the members of the public who first saw the animal. It is sad to see whales strand, but is not uncommon in our region when animals are sick or injured, and it is great to see our communities becoming more and more aware of the importance of marine conservation and how to behave around marine mammals”, says Jeff.
The public are the eyes and ears of DOC, and DOC encourages anyone to report conservation emergencies, especially whale strandings and fires, by calling the DOC hotline, 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).