Whale carcass off-limits

20:45, Jan 21 2013
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A dead whale on Patea beach

A rotting mass of blubber and bones is all that remains of a whale that washed up on a Patea beach at the weekend.

The whale, believed to be a 12-metre-long sperm whale, was found 2 kilometres west of the Patea River moles on Sunday. It had likely been dead for about three weeks.

Kaumatua Hemi Ngarewa, of Ngati Ruanui hapu Ngati Tupito, blessed the area early yesterday and put the site under a two-week rahui - or restriction - for 100m in all directions.

"The whale could be disease-ridden and people must keep away. For health reasons, we would suggest that the public stay away and refrain from fishing."

The whale will not be buried.

Mr Ngarewa said the hapu would not be taking the jawbone, as had happened with the whale which washed up on Paraparaumu Beach recently.

Department of Conservation marine ranger Callum Lilley said staff took a small sample of skin and blubber to help them confirm the species and sex.

"We don't know how it died but it seems to be to be a fully grown female sperm whale. It's fairly decomposed so it's difficult to tell with certainty."

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