Wednesday, 25 November 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Emotional scenes as volunteers battle to save stranded whales

Community volunteers have been praised for their mammoth effort in saving the lives of more than 20 pilot whales who were successfully re-floated after becoming stranded at Colville Bay last weekend.

Locals were first on the scene early on Saturday morning where around 25 whales had beached, with up to 15 more stranded in shallow waters. Trained marine mammal medics from Project Jonah and Department of Conservation staff arrived on the scene to coordinate the efforts later in the day, assisted by iwi and the local fire brigade. An estimated 200 people were involved in the physically and emotionally draining task of tending to the whales, keeping them cool and wet for more than 12 hours until high tide at 9:00pm.

After successfully ushering the group back to sea, sadly overnight 19 of them split from the pod again and stranded on a nearby headland where they died. They were blessed by local iwi before burial. Meanwhile Project Jonah reported that the surviving whales had been monitored by DOC staff in boats for several hours until they were safely out into deeper waters.

Whale strandings are relatively common in New Zealand. Any sightings of marine mammals in distress can be reported to Project Jonah 24-hours a day at 0800 4 WHALE (0800 4 94253).

Pictured: Some of the volunteers who helped on Saturday. Photo by Kimberley Knight.

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