Date: 12 August 2019
A 16-metre fin whale washed up dead at Te Kaha on Thursday last week. The whale was first spotted floating close to shore before washing up with the high tide.
DOC staff worked alongside representatives from Te Ehutu the following day to sample, process, and bury the whale according to local tikanga. Hapū chairman Eddie Matchitt said it was a gift to have this whale turn up; “[it was] right on my doorstep and it will now be with me for life”.
Fin whales are the second largest whale species on the planet (after the blue whale), and can grow up to 26m long. They are a type of baleen whale which feed by gulping in large quantities of water as well as plankton and small fish. They then expel the water out through the baleen plates which have hair-like bristles that trap their prey.
Fin whale sightings or strandings have rarely been recorded in New Zealand. It is believed their migration route is well offshore. This animal is thought to be a sub-adult male who was likely passing through to his summer feeding grounds in Antarctica when he died. The cause of death unknown.
Report whale or dolphin strandings to the DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
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