Posted by: The ocean update | August 26, 2015

Bid to rescue whale stranded on Auckland beach (New Zealand)

beached-whale-AucklandWednesday, August 26th, 2015. Volunteers have flocked to a beach near Auckland’s CBD in a bid to rescue a stranded whale.

It’s understood the whale – believed to be a Bryde’s whale (Ed Sibylline : a Minke whale) – is the same one that was spotted a couple of kilometres up an Auckland river yesterday afternoon.

It appears to be stranded on a sand bank on the Whau River, close to Pt Chevalier, according to witness photographs and video.

Witnesses at the bank say the whale appears to be alive and breathing.

Earlier, the Department of Conservation said the whale appeared to be dead.

A DoC marine team was on its way to the whale, and whale protection group Project Jonah was also at the beach.

The whale is situated around half way between Patiki Rd, Pt Chevalier, and the Causeway, and “quite far out” from the shore.

Around eight people were pouring buckets of water over it, but the rising tide was making it increasingly difficult for them to reach the whale.

They were now perched on a sand bank at least 600m from the whale, while others in a boat – believed to be DoC workers – were beside the animal.

It was believed to be alive, but it was not visibly moving.

Blogger and journalist Russell Brown tweeted from the beach : “Looks like the whale is alive. About to get my feet wet…” He also posted a video of the whale seemingly breathing to his Facebook account.

DoC said earlier today that it was working on the basis the whale “appeared to be dead”.

The whale was sighted by a river tour group close to the Riverhead Tavern on the upper Waitemata Harbour.

It appeared to be attempting to catch fish in the shallow waters of the Rangitopuni Creek, a long narrow inlet, The Red Boats Ltd managing director Andrew Somers said.

Mr Somers said seeing the whale yesterday afternoon had been amazing.

“We were departing on our return trip from Riverhead … we were leaving because the tide was going out and we had to go. I went up front to untie the line and I felt this big wave, and sort of looked around expecting to see a big boat go flying past, and sitting behind us was a big whale,” he said.

“It was basically chasing food. It was swimming quickly and going right up on the mud flats and beaching itself, and then it would sort of wiggle itself off again. It did it a couple of times.

“It was a pretty spectacular sight, because it was like having a big ship up there running itself on the bank.”

The whale caused quite a stir on board, he said.

“Everyone loved it, they all had their phones out and were yahooing and carrying on.”

He added: “It was a good bit of excitement for the day and definitely something to get the passengers talking.”

Mr Somers said he had never seen a whale up the river before. “Not up there, never,” he said.

“It’s very rare to see a whale like that up the creek so far. Even the lower upper [Waitemata] Harbour it’s quite a rare thing.”

But after yesterday’s sighting he was “most definitely” be on the look out for more.

A population of Bryde’s whales live in the Hauraki Gulf, but it is not usual for them to swim upriver.

The whale was sighted close to the Riverhead Tavern on the upper Waitemata Harbour.

The whale was sighted close to the Riverhead Tavern on the upper Waitemata Harbour.

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