Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is calling for any sightings of a beaked whale in the Hauraki Gulf after receiving a report of a stranded beaked whale was pushed back out to sea by well-intentioned members of the public.

Date:  03 March 2022

DOC Biodiversity Ranger, Olivia Keane says we would like to assess the condition of the whale prior to further attempts at re-floatation as there have been reports it has a gash on its head, and as it is unusual for beaked whales to be close to shore, there could be an underlying reason.

“The stranding at Red Beach, north of Auckland was reported to DOC and Project Jonah on Tuesday and members of public stepped in to re-float it. There may be underlying causes as to why this animal is in shallow waters and re-floating the animal might not be in its best interest.

“We know that when people see an animal in distress the immediate human reaction is to step in and provide help, but we want to emphasise that you should contact DOC or Project Jonah so we can work with experts to intervene in a way that keeps people and animals safe.”

Daren Grover of Project Jonah says people’s good intentions aren’t always the right thing to do when it comes to the welfare of the animal.

“Finding a stranded whale or dolphin on the beach is a stressful moment, and how people react can often be to the detriment of the animal. That’s why it’s important to call for help.”

For people wanting to know the right things to do if they find or hear of stranded marine mammals, Project Jonah run a Marine Mammal Medic course.

“Medics who complete this course will be well equipped in rescuing stranded whales and dolphins and can act as a role model to untrained rescuers, says Daren Grover.

“Knowing the rescue process, including health and safety risks, gives medics the knowledge to act safely, and the skills to provide immediate care to wild and endangered animals”.

Olivia Keane says further reports indicate there could be two beaked whales seen in the Hauraki Gulf over the past few weeks as what appears to be a young southern bottlenose whale was photographed closer to the central city a couple of weeks ago. Photos and videos show these are two separate animals and likely different species.

“To anyone in the area who has spotted a beaked whale please contact DOC on 0800 DOCHOT (0800 362 468) to report your sighting. Try to take photos but remain 50 m away to reduce stress to the animal and if you see a stranding please contact DOC or Project Jonah straight away to receive instruction.”

New Zealand has one of the world's highest rates of whale strandings and is recognised as a world leader in successful whale rescues. Much of this success is thanks to DOC and Project Jonah working together, as well as the important support of iwi, local communities and other marine mammal rescue groups and volunteers.

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