Stomach-churning dead whale left to nature's care

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014

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A whale carcass on the shoreline, south of New Plymouth's Back Beach, will take months to break down, according to the Department of Conservation.

Conservation services manager Callum Lilley said nature would be left to take its course in disposing of the 20-metre-long marine mammal, which washed up on the coast between Tapuae and Back Beach last week.

The cold weather meant decomposition would take "a very long time".

The tide was helping control the odour of the carcass, Lilley said.

"It's not too bad at this stage.

"It doesn't smell good but you can tolerate it."

However, a group of school children had a different experience.

"We were walking towards it and it was really smelly," Mason Emett, 10, said.

"I couldn't take it, so I spewed."

Grace Taverner, a teacher at School's Out New Plymouth after-school care, said the carcass was starting to turn a pale yellow.

"One of the teachers had to go back because she was dry-retching." Most of the children were excited about the up-close encounter with the dead giant, and were running up and touching it, Taverner said.

The Department of Conservation will monitor the decomposition process and liaise with iwi about collecting culturally-significant bone from the whale.

No odour complaints had been received from nearby residents.

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