NZ Local News

Hundreds gather at Christchurch beach, attempts to save large whale underway

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Hundreds of people have gathered at a Christchurch beach tonight as attempts are made to save a whale that has stranded itself.

An NZME reporter at the scene said the whale, which is easily several metres long, has been stuck off the coast of Moncks Bay since some time before 9pm.

“We’re rapidly losing light and it doesn’t look to be going anywhere,” they said.

At least a few hundred people had gathered to watch the attempted rescue unfold, causing delays in traffic around the area.

“You can see it right out in the middle. It appears to be flapping around and you can see it blowing water up in the air every now and again”.

Crowds have gathered around Moncks Bay in Christchurch where a whale has beached itself. Photo / Claire Sherwood
Crowds have gathered around Moncks Bay in Christchurch where a whale has beached itself. Photo / Claire Sherwood

Five Project Jonah volunteer staff are responding alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Coastguard.

“At the moment there is a large Coastguard boat out on the water alongside two smaller vessels,” the reporter said.

Police were also in attendance advising people they may need to move their vehicles if a greater emergency response is needed.

A Project Jonah volunteer said it was hard to tell how big the whale is but “it’s a big one”.

Five Project Jonah volunteer staff are currently responding alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Coastguard. Photo / Claire Sherwood
Five Project Jonah volunteer staff are currently responding alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Coastguard. Photo / Claire Sherwood

Coastguard could be seen trying to stir up the water in an attempt to help the whale lift and free itself.

“They don’t know if they’ll get it floated tonight, and if need be they’ll have DOC with it overnight to keep it wet and happy as it can be and try to re-float it at first light,” said the reporter.

It was unclear what species of whale was stranded and Project Jonah staff were waiting for DOC specialists to arrive to identify it.

Coastguard boats hadn’t gotten too close to the whale as they didn’t want to cause it further stress.

Last Sunday, a pod of false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins were euthanised after becoming stranded twice on a reef near Māhia.

The pod of around 40 was first stranded early in the afternoon but refloated with the high tide.

A pod of false killer whales stranded on a remote reef south of Taylor's Bay on the Mahia Peninsua. Photo / Department of Conservation
A pod of false killer whales stranded on a remote reef south of Taylor’s Bay on the Mahia Peninsua. Photo / Department of Conservation

The Department of Conservation said the entire group then re-stranded at a remote and inaccessible reef point further south from Taylor’s Beach.

DoC’s Matt Tong said the whales and dolphins were assessed as being unlikely to survive and the difficult decision was made to euthanise them.

“This is a sad outcome for these whales, particularly after the successful refloating earlier today.

“However, they are clearly suffering and euthanising them is the most humane course of action.”

Benjamin Plummer is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He has worked for the Herald since 2022.



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