OPINION: Every year around this time it happens. Already this month, two whale strandings on Farewell Spit have meant frustration for DOC staff, noble efforts by volunteers and national media focus.
The strandings are distressing for those who encounter them firsthand. Whales' size adds to the sense of helplessness as they lie stuck and slowly dying.
Often they are already exhausted, confused by the shallow, sandy nature of the spit and seem incapable of doing anything to help would-be rescuers assist them. Even an apparently successful rescue can see the pod members return on the next tide.
The hard question is whether we should do more - or less - to attempt to save the next pods that wind up on this isolated and tricky part of our coast. Is human intervention even appropriate, unless, say rare and endangered species are involved?
Conservation resources are clearly stretched. Could they be put to better purpose?