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Blue whale washes ashore

John McFadzean — owner of Glenburn Station — taking a look at the 21m blue whale. PHOTO/KAREN FITZGERALD


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What do you do when the largest animal in the world washes up on your property?

A 21m blue whale was found washed ashore in Glenburn in coastal Wairarapa on Wednesday morning.

The dead whale was seen floating along the Glenburn coastline on Tuesday night, and it is believed to be the same whale which was seen floating off D’Urville Island on September 12.

Department of Conservation (DoC) ranger Jim Flack said they found out the whale had washed ashore at about 11am yesterday.

A closer look at the blue whale. PHOTO/KAREN FITZGERALD

“We’ll be heading down to the site [today].

“We’ll get some samples for science, which can provide more information about the local blue whale population.”

When a whale gets stranded, but is still alive, the priority is to re-float it.

A dead whale means the priority turns to working out what to do next.

“We always call local iwi representatives, because if it’s a sperm whale or any whale with a heavy jaw bone they can be used as taonga, and recovered for carving,” Mr Flack said.

“That’s not the case with a blue whale because they don’t have the same type of jaw.”

DoC would meet with the land owner today to discuss the best way to deal with the whale.

“If it’s not causing a nuisance or a health hazard to anyone we can let it decompose, otherwise we would have to bury it.

“There’s logistical problems with that, and we often have to transport it.”

Whales would often wash up at Cape Palliser, but the sandy nature of the beach meant they could be buried on site, he said.

When whales were found on rocky beaches that often meant having to transport them to another location to be buried.

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