A large humpback whale died after becoming stranded off Glinks Gully beach near Dargaville earlier this morning.
The 10-metre-long whale, which was discovered around 8.30am, was confirmed dead an hour later by Department of Conservation (DOC) spokesperson Abi Monteith.
“DOC are working with local iwi on their wishes for the next steps, which may include flensing or burial,” was quoted as saying by Stuff.
DOC staff were at the scene along with members of Project Johah and the Te Kopuru fire brigade.
In a Facebook post, Project Jonah New Zealand stated they received a call from Fire and Emergency about a single large whale stranded.
“We mobilised our local medics, senior team, and rescue trailer and responded alongside DOC. Sadly, the whale has passed away.”
Project Jonah general manager Daren Grover told RNZ that it was unusual for a humpback to be that far north this time of the year, which could mean that it was distressed, unwell, or disoriented.
“It could have died from one of many reasons; it could be an underlying condition, whether that is an illness, or it could simply be that the whale has become old and died,” he told RNZ.
“We do have some concerns that it is out of its natural range at this time of year. So there could be some impact of ocean temperature increases as a result of climate change, which may have impacted this animal becoming disoriented and in a region that it’s not familiar with at this time of year.
“There will be a blessing of the whale, and then it ultimately will be buried after hopefully, measurements and samples are taken. If it is a remote beach, it may be left open to the elements, or it will be left very close to where it stranded.”
In August 2018, two humpback whales were found stranded on Baylys Beach. The female whale, which was found with a calf that died later, had been struck on Ripiro Beach, as the whale’s condition had been deteriorating.
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