The pygmy sperm whale washed ashore early Monday morning and, despite the best efforts of DOC staff, the Jonah project, mana whenua and members of the public, could not be successfully refloated.
DOC and mana whenua, Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, agreed that it would be kinder to euthanize the three-meter-long pygmy sperm whale.
“We would have preferred a different outcome, but under the circumstances everyone agreed it was for the best,” said Angus Hulme-Moir, DOC operations manager for Kapiti-Wellington. “Euthanasia is always a last resort, and while it’s a kindness, it’s never easy.”
It is heartbreaking, but not necessarily uncommon, to see sick, distressed or dying whales enter shallow waters and become stranded. However, while marine mammal strandings are natural, mana whenua whale expert Jordan Housiaux-Dustin said strandings still raise questions for iwi about what they are indicating in terms of the health of the iwi. the marine environment.
Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai had its own tailored marine mammal protocols that were implemented during the stranding to guide everyone involved in the stranding management process, both logistically and in terms of supporting people’s well-being.
Iwi President Andre Baker said it was an important expression of the rangatiratanga de mana whenua that these protocols are followed and ensure that all parties can work together cohesively. The whale was called Kena Kena.
Angus Hulme-Moir said the DOC would like to thank everyone who helped with the stranding, and the group effort makes a grim situation less difficult.
“We are grateful to the people who first reported it, the local police, the Jonah Project staff for their support and knowledge, the dedicated members of the public who helped the whale throughout the day and stayed until the end.”
The whale will be buried locally by iwi.
The DOC encourages anyone to report whale sightings and strandings by calling the DOC hotline, 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).