Friday, September 24, 2010

Spirits Having Flown

Where is Spirits Bay?If they'd intentionally sought an isolated spot in which to die, they could not have found somewhere better...
Last Wednesday a large pod of pilot whales stranded at Spirits Bay, 90km north of Kaitaia at the very tip of NZ's North Island. They were spread across a 2km beach frontage, adding to the complexities of stranding management. The progressive stranding, with whales coming in throughout the day, was described by DOC as "unprecedented". And the huge storm slamming the country meant refloating the whales was never an option: 20 knot winds and 2m.swells hampered the efforts of the 160 rescuers.
Spirits Bay casualtiesOver half the pod either died or were euthanased by DOC staff, while 24 stronger whales were relocated by truck for refloating at the nearby more sheltered Rarawa Beach today. The whales were unloaded into the water at the beach using lifting equipment and diggers. Most of the whales coped with the journey, but two died en route and another at the beach.
making the whales comfortable after the tripDOC says the decision to transport the whales was difficult, but it was the only realistic option to give the whales any chance of survival. Experts describe the move as the largest transportation of whales to be attempted yet. Other transports by truck have been undertaken in NZ before, but this is the most moved by truck and the longest journey.
Keep on truckin'!Once all the whales are in the water, they'll be released together this evening. Pontoons will be used to take the larger ones out to sea, and then boats will herd the whales out. 
This is the second mass whale stranding in the Far North in two months: in August a pod of 58 pilot whales became stranded at Karikari Beach.
PS: 25 Sept.2010 - 14 of the transported pilot whales have swum out to sea, but seven others had to be euthanased after they stranded again despite rescuers' efforts. The total of whales involved in this stranding (estimated at around 70-80) may never be known, because of the storm conditions at the time.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Huge efforts for these good Samaritans in very difficult and emotional conditions! Its a tragic situation for these wonderful mammals, humans included, with only 14 saved. However, 14 is better then nothing. Haere rā - go in peace.