Friday, January 18, 2013

Sperm In The Surf

A sperm whale washed up on Paraparaumu Beach, north of Wgtn, was buried yesterday.
The 15m, 40-tonne whale was believed to be a older adult male that had died of natural causes before it washed up on the beach in front of the Kapiti Boating Club on Wednesday morning.
A large crowd of onlookers gathered on the beach to touch and have photographs taken with the creature, before the carcass was cordoned off for health reasons. The Conservation Department later moved the whale using diggers. It was buried in a public-excluded site south of the beach near Queen Elizabeth Park for health reasons, because the body would soon start to decompose...on a public site there was a risk dogs would attempt to dig up the carcass.
Local maori took the jaw bone using knives, saws and hooks before the whale was buried: the jaw removal took some time and caused anger among some onlookers.
Museum of NZ's marine mammal collection manager Anton van Helden believed the whale was an older adult male: "There is considerable wear on the teeth and a lot of white scarring on the skin. It probably died of suffocation due to being stranded, but what caused it to come in is another question. They may suffer the same old age conditions as we do such as heart disease and arthritis, which could contribute to the cause of death." A local fisherman said he'd seen a whale thrashing around between the shore and Kapiti Island over the past few days.
Adult male sperm whales weigh up to 57 tonnes, can be up to 20m long and can live for 65 years. They are found in all oceans and are classified as vulnerable.

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