Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bay Of Whales' Casualties Buried

A pod of long-finned pilot whales that stranded on a remote East Cape beach early last Sunday, has now been buried.
The 51 whales came ashore in 2m swells at Whangaparaoa Beach, near Cape Runaway. Department of Conservation (DOC) Gisborne Whakatane marine ranger Jamie Quirk says 44 of the whales died relatively quickly from natural causes, while the other seven were injured during the stranding and were euthanised.
The death of so many animals is always heart-rending, and the whales have since been buried in a large grave in the back dunes of the beach.
Quirk: "The local community have been outstanding in assisting us to bury the whales. Without their involvement, the whole work would have been a lot more difficult."
Sea conditions at the time of the stranding meant it would have been hazardous and impossible to try to get any of the whales back out to sea.
Whales have stranded before in this particular bay: there was a large stranding in the mid to late 1980s, and smaller events since then. An orca stranded there only a few months ago.
Quirk describes the gently sloping sandy beach as shaped a bit of a fish hook, and those conditions often serve as a perfect trap for marine mammals. The stranding was significant to the area because Whangaparaoa means "bay of whales" in maori.

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