Brain scan for whale left to die

13:13, Feb 22 2014

A necropsy and a brain scan will be carried out on a long-finned pilot whale which beached at Kaka Point.

The four metre whale died yesterday after beaching on rocks.

The Department of Conservation decided the animal could not be euthanised or refloated safely, so it was left to die.

Owaka DOC ranger Chris Bennett said he understood researchers would carry out a necropsy on the whale.

A brain scan would also be carried out at the Dunedin Hospital radiology department.

Mr Bennett said the whale, possibly one of a pod of 20 seen off Kaka Point by fishermen on Thursday night, appeared undernourished.


The young specimen should have been heavier for its length.

Invercargill-based DOC planner Brian Murphy said the whale became stranded at the north end of the beach, about 100km south of Dunedin and had been stuck in the "surge" zone, the area where the shore breaks onto the rocks.

It had been thrown around by the waves, which meant it was difficult to euthanise, Mr Murphy said.

The most humane way to kill it would have been with a high-powered rifle, but it was "too risky".

"They have a very small target zone and if you miss there is the risk you will injure it without killing it," he said.

A local resident found the four-metre long whale just after 6.30 pm and called DOC.

It was initially refloated with the assistance of local surf life savers and the local fire fighters at about 8 pm but it became beached again at 8.45 pm.

Last week a pod of nine orcas died after they were stranded on a remote beach near Blue Cliffs, on the southern coast.

The Southland Times