Monday, January 20, 2014

Farewell Spit: Third Big Stranding

It's becoming the annual summer norm: a sequence of pilot whale strandings at Farewell Spit.
After two big strandings on the 6th and the 14th of January, Department of Conservation and volunteers are again battling the elements, for the sake of more than 70 whales beached yesterday at Golden Bay.
Many could not be saved: 8 later had to be euthanised and two more died at sea during the refloat. 49 whales re-stranded but one died overnight.
Another whale was put down this morning, but experts are more hopeful of a successful re-float on this afternoon's high tide, for the 47 remaining.
DOC says the whales moved overnight about a kilometre down the beach. Their new location at Puponga Beach near the base of Farewell Spit is encouraging because the whales will be in the water faster, and it is also easier for people to access if they want to help.
The rest of the tropical cyclone weather system is due to hit the area tomorrow so it's crucial the situation is sorted today.
Update: 22 Jan.2014 -The 45 refloated whales were spotted yesterday afternoon swimming out into deeper water. Hopes are high that they will not restrand.


BigMac said...

Out of curiosity, how are these whales euthanized? By lethal injection, shoot or other method?

Writer Of The Purple Sage said...

Dear BigMac:
I contacted the NZ Department of Conservation (DoC) for you, and the reply was:

"For pilot whales and other small whales, euthanasia is carried out by a staff member using a 30.06 calibre rifle. A single shot is fired into the whale's brain. A number of our staff are trained to carry out this task.
For larger whales, a .50 calibre rifle and projectile is (sic) used. We have fewer strandings of larger whales and euthanizing them is a more specialised task.

John Mason
Golden Bay Conservation Services Manager"