A 20-metre-long whale was found dead on a beach just south of New Plymouth this week.
The mammal, believed to be the largest species on Earth, a blue whale, or its sub-species, a pygmy blue whale, was discovered on Tapuae Beach, near Okurukuru.
Department of Conservation acting senior biodiversity ranger Callum Lilley said it was uncommon but not unusual for large whales to wash up along the coastline. "There have been five dead blue whales washed up on the North Island's west coast between Wellington and Northland in the past five years, and a dead whale washed up on Waiinu Beach near Whanganui in 2011."
On Thursday high tide limited rangers' access to the carcass but an examination was carried out by Massey University and DOC yesterday.
The whale may have been dead for a couple of weeks.
"Unfortunately due to the state of decomposition it was really hard to get a cause of death," Lilley said. It is not known yet if any attempt to move the whale will be made, although the remote location and limited access made it unlikely.
People looking for the whale should keep a distance for hygiene purposes and because the rocks were slippery, he said.
Taranaki commercial fishermen and crew on a ship leaving Port Taranaki had reported the dead whale may have been floating around five kilometres off the Taranaki coast on Sunday.
Iwi have blessed the whale.
- Taranaki Daily News