Posted by: The ocean update | August 26, 2015

Minke Whale Saved By New Zealand Volunteers (New Zealand)

Minke Whale Saved By New Zealand Volunteers

Minke Whale Saved By New Zealand Volunteers

August 26th, 2015. An Antarctic minke whale has been floated out to sea after stranding itself off the coast of New Zealand.

The 8m-long mammal, which could have weighed as much as seven tons, was spotted near a motorway at Point Chevalier, not far from Auckland just before 8am local time.

A small band of volunteers, including those from the country’s marine mammal rescue charity Project Jonah, were soon on the scene.

They battled for six hours to keep the massive whale watered until it could be re-floated with the high tide at around 2.30pm.

Louisa Hawkes from Project Jonah told Radio New Zealand: “It’s quite a big whale so there wasn’t much we could do to move it physically, we had to wait until the water was around the whale and then we could nudge it.”

She added that the rescuers were “cautiously optimistic” that the whale will keep heading into deeper water.

“Once it was facing the right direction it took off quite quickly and it’s covered a considerable distance,” she said.

Zainab Aziz, 12, was one of the first to find the whale at about 7.45am, saying she was excited to see one so close.

“It was really big. To take a photo you have to walk pretty far back … We just kept on pouring water over it.”

Whale strandings are common in New Zealand, with around 300 dolphins and whales stranding themselves on the country’s beaches each year.

This high rate, however, means volunteers have also developed a high rate of rescue success.

The causes of strandings are unclear but can be due to disease, weather, injury or even sonar disrupting their ability to communicate with the others in their pod.

Minke whales mainly swim alone or in pairs, reaching speeds of up to 12 knots and are able to stay under water for as long as 20 minutes at a time.

They are not rare – with an estimated population of around 200,000 – but the common breed of minke whale are among those targeted by Japan and Iceland for commercial and “scientific” purposes.

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