Jelly-like blob baffling
Beachgoers at busy Piha have been scratching their heads all week after the discovery of a large, white jelly-like substance washed in by the breakers on Sunday.
Eight-year-old Declan Honan-Crann of Glen Eden is among those speculating over what it might be.
"It looks like an animal of some sort, but I can’t tell what type," he says.
"It doesn’t look like a rock or a washed-up tree and when I poked it with my foot it shook like a huge jelly."
Declan’s uncle Vincent Honan says the quivering blob looks like a mysterious sea creature of some sort.
"It’s very unusual to see something like this, I walk my dog at Piha regularly and have never seen anything like it. It’s interesting and strange to see it there."
Other people have differing views.
Some think the mound is a giant squid and there has even been talk of alien visitors.
Regular Piha beachgoer Jack Young is stumped.
"I know there was a whale washed up on to the beach in the 1950s but I’ve had a place out here since 1965 and have never seen anything like this.
"I do see the occasional fur seal on the beach but this is really unusual."
Conservation Department marine ranger Karl McLeod says the 2.5 metre by 1 metre wide chunk of blubber comes from an animal that died at sea some time ago.
"I’m fairly confident it’s a sperm whale. The body will have been broken up at sea and pieces are now washing up along the coast," he says.
"This sort of thing does happen from time to time but it’s quite unusual for something like this to end up on such a popular beach."
Mr McLeod says fully grown whales can grow up to seven metres in length so other sections could yet be washed ashore.
He says another piece of blubber was found further up the coast near Dargaville.
He is urging people not to handle any other bits of the whale that may come in with the tide.
"Anyone finding further pieces of animal should contact the Conservation Department."