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Pod of stranded 40 false killer whales and dolphins euthanised

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People rushed to the Tairāwhiti beach to help the stranded whales. Photo / Facebook

By Jemima Hutson of RNZ

A pod of false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins have been euthanised after becoming stranded again on a reef near Māhia.

The pod of around 40 was first stranded early this afternoon but refloated with the high tide about 3pm.

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.”

He wanted to thank volunteers, iwi and the local community who assisted with the initial refloating of the pod.

The pod of around 40 was first stranded early this afternoon but refloated with the high tide about 3pm. Photo / Facebook
The pod of around 40 was first stranded early this afternoon but refloated with the high tide about 3pm. Photo / Facebook

Earlier attempts to rescue whales

Project Jonah manager Daren Grover said earlier today the concern going into the evening was that the whales would not swim out to sea and strand themselves again as the tide went out.

He said a team of people at the beach would create a “human chain” in the shallows, splashing and making noise to stop the whales from running aground.

“We want to create disturbance. Obviously, we don’t want to distress the whales, but without understanding the underlying reasons why the whales came to shore in the first place, while we know [a human chain] can work and it has worked in the past, we’ve still got concerns these whales may eventually strand [again].”

Grover said ideally people would be in the water, following the tide as it receded, to maintain that human barrier.

“We always put human health and safety as one of our concerns and considerations at a stranding. We never want anyone to become exhausted and to become a pull on resources for us to look after them.”

Earlier this afternoon, a video was posted on a Facebook community page showing the whales thrashing in the shallows of a rocky beach and waving their tails, surrounded by white water.

Whale conservation group Project Jonah and the Department of Conservation mobilised a team to attempt to save the animals.

Grover said the beach was isolated and this was a major stranding for an area where there were not many people nearby to help.

But Grover said any locals wanting to help should not get in the water with the stranded whales because they could be unpredictable and dangerous.

Earlier this afternoon, a video on a Facebook community page showed the whales thrashing in the shallows of a rocky beach and waving their tails. Photo / Facebook
Earlier this afternoon, a video on a Facebook community page showed the whales thrashing in the shallows of a rocky beach and waving their tails. Photo / Facebook

– RNZ



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