Beached whale dies at Christchurch's Southshore

02:00, Oct 27 2009
Stranded whale
RESCUE EFFORT: Volunteers attempt to refloat the whale.

Seaside residents were heartbroken when attempts to save a whale stranded at Southshore beach failed today.

The five metre female whale, thought to be a cuviars beaked whale, was discovered near Heron St shortly before 10am this morning by beachgoers who called the Department of Conservation.

DOC area manager Bryan Jensen said although the whale was alive when it came ashore it was unable to be refloated. The whale died shortly before midday.

Stranded whale
A reader photo of the whale at Southshore beach.

"It was thrashing around for a short time but it became obvious that it was beyond being rescued," he said.

Sarah Radovanovich and Kirsty Facer were among those who rushed to the beach to help the whale.

"I decided to come down and help out, but got here too late," Facer said.

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"I love animals and heard that there was a [beached] whale, I went and grabbed some buckets and came down," Radovanovich said.

"We got here too late. It was heartbreaking to find out we couldn’t do much for it," Facer said.

Jensen said there could be a number of reasons why the whale had stranded. 

"[It could have been] hit by a boat or become ill and come ashore ... it's really unknown," he said.

Jensen said whale strandings were "usually a recovery job".

"One way or the other - to get the whale refloated or when it's unfortunate like this, the whale dies and we have the job of disposing of it," he said.

DOC staff would examine the whale more closely to determine age and species before bringing in machinery to remove the whale.

Jensen said once an appropriate site was found, the whale would be buried.

The Press