Shipping danger to whales
It seems this is the season for dead whales.
Just a few weeks ago a 15.5 metre male Bryde’s whale washed up on Te Arai beach.
A member of the Rorquals family, they include the largest animal that has ever lived, the blue whale, and are slender and streamlined in shape. All members of the family have a series of longitudinal folds of skin running from below the
mouth back to the navel. These are understood to allow the mouth to expand immensely when feeding and at this size this is considerably larger than any that have beached themselves in recent times.
Department of Conservation (DOC) officers from Warkworth who inspected the whale were initially unable to say how long it had been dead but external marks suggest it may have been
hit by a ship while sleeping just beneath the surface.
An autopsy revealed severe internal trauma adding weight to the ship strike theory, possibly somewhere out in the Hauraki Gulf, although a full report will be released in due course.
Local iwi were notified and blessed the scene prior to the whale being buried intact.
The Bryde’s have no teeth and a soft jawbone structure
which renders it unsuitable for bone carving.
Another two whales near Wellington late last week and two in the Far North in the past fortnight all washed up dead. All appeared to be of differing species leaving DOC and whale-watchers scratching their heads to find any correlation between these dead bodies as opposed to the more usual random strandings of mis-directed pods.