Two whales beach on Coast

FALLEN GIANT: This 17-metre sperm whale washed up on a beach near the Taramakau River mouth, about 20km south of Greymouth.
CHRIS LYNCH
FALLEN GIANT: This 17-metre sperm whale washed up on a beach near the Taramakau River mouth, about 20km south of Greymouth.

The carcass of a large whale was beached at the mouth of the Taramakau River, on the West Coast, yesterday.

Christchurch radio personality Chris Lynch, who snapped a picture of the animal, said it measured 17 metres.

He was told by the Department of Conservation that it was probably dead when it washed up.

DOC staff warned people not to touch the whale and were waiting for local iwi to bless the carcass before removing it.

Last night, DOC confirmed it was aware of the incident.

On Saturday morning another whale, thought to be a Cuvier's Beaked Whale, was discovered on Cobden Beach, Greymouth.

DOC's Hokitika-based marine specialist Don Neale said the whale measured 6m and was a mature specimen.

Eight to 10 Cuvier's Beaked Whales have washed up on West Coast beaches in the past 25 years.

The whale's carcass was reasonably fresh and the cause of death had yet to be determined.

Neale said it was possible that the whale could be washed out to sea during the next high tide.

However, if that did not happen, DOC would consult with local iwi and scientists from Auckland University and Te Papa to discuss what to do with the carcass.

"Beaked whales are quite a hard group of whales to study. They are deep-diving oceanic whales.

"This one's not one of the really rare ones, but it's not very common either."

The Press