Date: 31 January 2022
The pygmy sperm whale washed up early Monday morning and, despite best efforts from DOC staff, Project Jonah, mana whenua and members of the public, could not be successfully refloated.
DOC and mana whenua, Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, agreed that it would be kindest to euthanise the three-metre-long pygmy sperm whale.
“We would have preferred a different outcome, but in the circumstances, all agreed this was for the best,” said Angus Hulme-Moir, DOC Operations Manager for Kapiti-Wellington. “Euthanasia is always a last resort, and even though it’s a kindness, it’s never easy.”
It is upsetting, but not necessarily uncommon, to see sick, distressed, or dying whales come into shallow water and strand. However, while marine mammal strandings are natural, mana whenua whale expert, Jordan Housiaux-Dustin, said strandings always raised questions for the iwi about what they indicated in terms of the health of the marine environment.
Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai had their own bespoke marine mammal protocols that were implemented at the stranding to guide all involved through the process of dealing with the stranding, both logistically and in terms of supporting people’s welfare.
Iwi chair Andre Baker said it was an important expression of the rangatiratanga of mana whenua that these protocols were followed and ensured that all parties could work together cohesively. The whale was named Kena Kena.
Angus Hulme-Moir said DOC would like to thank everyone who helped with the stranding, and the group effort makes a sombre situation less difficult.
“We are grateful to the people who first reported it, local police, Project Jonah staff for their support and knowledge, the dedicated members of the public who helped the whale throughout the day and stayed through to the end.”
The whale will be buried locally by iwi.
DOC encourages anyone to report whale sightings and strandings, by calling the DOC hotline, 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
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