Rescuers fail to save stranded whale

By Nathan Crombie nathan.crombie@age.co.nz -
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DOC ranger Julia Brady splashes seawater on a 5.2m-long Cuvier's beaked whale that stranded at Whangaimoana Beach on Wednesday. PHOTO/NATHAN CROMBIE
DOC ranger Julia Brady splashes seawater on a 5.2m-long Cuvier's beaked whale that stranded at Whangaimoana Beach on Wednesday. PHOTO/NATHAN CROMBIE

Rescuers failed to refloat a whale last night which stranded on a South Wairarapa beach.

DOC Wairarapa operations manager Kathy Houkamau said the second failed attempt means rescuers will "regroup and decide what we do from here".

"Sadly, we were not been able to successfully refloat the whale. We threw everything at it in pretty testing conditions and the DOC team and locals did manage to get it into the water," she said.

"But the light dropped off sharply and with the waves rolling in, it was actually quite unsafe to be in the water with the whale, and it didn't appear to have what it takes to swim away."

The 5.2m-long Cuvier's beaked whale was discovered marooned on the remote Whangiamoana Beach on the South Wairarapa coast on Wednesday afternoon. The animal was believed to be a male, weighing about two tonnes.

A lack of light foiled the initial rescue attempt at high tide about 5pm on Wednesday and the same difficulties thwarted the second attempt last night despite a team of DoC rangers experienced in whale rescue also being on hand.

Mrs Houkamau said high tide times were falling mostly within periods of darkness and a third attempt would depend on the condition of the whale.

"We're not sure if there will be another attempt. We'll have to look at the whale and go from there. We left it last night and can't be in the water with it overnight. It's just too dangerous."

She said the DOC team would return to the beach today to keep the whale wet and provide relieve for it from the sun.

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