A decision over what to do with a dead whale weighing over several tonnes and measuring 10m in length should be made by iwi in Northland today.
The Bryde's whale was discovered stranded by locals on the beach about 8km south of the Baylys Beach entrance, between Mahuta and Glinks Gully, yesterday morning.
The whale, initially thought to be a humpback but confirmed to be a Bryde's whale by the Department of Conservation, was alive and thrashing around when it was first found.
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West coast resident Michael Ross arrived on the beach to find two people pouring water over the whale.
"It was very lively and thrashing about trying to move, but the water was about 100m away at the time. It had cuts and bruises on it."
Volunteer firefighters from Te Kopuru and Dargaville were called but about half an hour after their arrival the whale died.
"It was a bit surreal because it had been so lively and then it was gone," Ross said.
A karakia was done by the Kaipara District Council's Iwi liaison officer which was very moving, Ross said.
DoC spokeswoman Abi Monteith said conservation staff were supporting iwi on their wishes for the next steps, which may include flensing or burial.
However, the logistics of moving such a large mammal combined with the remote location would make things a little more difficult.
"We don't have information about the cause of death as yet. We may do a necropsy or take samples for testing," Monteith said.
In 2018 a mother and her calf were found stranded on Baylys Beach. Despite attempts to save the whales the mother died and the calf had to be euthanised two days later.
In that case, iwi removed the blubber of the whales in a traditional flensing process.
All strandings should be reported to DoC as early as possible. Phone 0800 DOC HOT or 0800 362 468.