Spate of whale strandings continues

BEACHED: A baby sei whale lies stranded on the beach at Motupipi, Golden Bay.
BEACHED: A baby sei whale lies stranded on the beach at Motupipi, Golden Bay.

The stranding of a baby sei whale in the Motupipi estuary is the fourth species of whale to be beached in Golden Bay in past seven weeks.

After to getting a phone call on Sunday telling him of the live whale in the estuary, Department of Conservation Golden Bay programme manager for biodiversity Hans Stoffregen was surprised to find it was a sei whale.

"Apparently there are few sightings of sei whales," he said.

It is a baleen whale, and the third largest after the blue whale and fin whale. The sei whale grows up to 16 metres, and the beached baby was five metres long.

"It was really beautiful," said Mr Stoffregen.

However, because it was a baby whale, it was euthanased, he said.

"With juveniles, if they lose their mother basically they're doomed," he said. They were dependent on their mother. "Refloating them would be sending them to certain death."

The whale was kept alive for about two hours while iwi representatives were notified and the decision made to euthanase it, he said.

It comes after a pod of 31 beached pilot whales at the bases of Farewell Spit were also euthanased at the end of last week.

The others that have stranded were three pigmy right whales - two died and one was refloated - and two hector dolphins which died and have been sent to Massey University for autopsy.

"It's busy for us and diverse to have four different species in the last seven weeks," said Mr Stoffregen.