Posted by: The ocean update | July 13, 2016

Health warning over washed up whale carcass (New Zealand)

The 22-metre long blue whale washed up on a private Far North beach.

The 22-metre long blue whale washed up on a private Far North beach.

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016. A 22-metre long blue whale washed up on a private Far North beach has excited a marine mammal expert but also sparked a health warning as the giant sea creature decomposes.

The whale was probably a blue whale, but whether it is a pygmy blue or a true blue whale would not be known until samples taken by the Department of Conservation had been analysed, Forest & Bird marine mammal specialist Anton van Helden said.

It washed up on a private beach, about 40 minutes north of Kerikeri, on Saturday.

Mr van Helden said even the best analysis may never uncover the cause of death.

He said the whale had clear shark bites on it, including one large, almost circular wound, and while it appeared to have lost much of its colour, that did not mean it had been dead in the water for a long time.

“Whales have very thin skin – in terms of its colouring – and it can quickly get washed off as it turns over in the water when it’s dead. We’d need to do further research to know for sure how long it had been dead.”

Mr van Helden said the fact the whale’s stomach had not exploded after becoming bloated also seemed to indicate it had not been in the water for weeks.

He said decaying marine mammals posed a serious risk to human health.

“Just like us, whales are mammals and like all mammals they carry bacteria and disease that can be passed on to other mammals including to humans,” he said.

 At 22 metres long the decomposing whale is staring to get a "very smelly" and potentially dangerous.


At 22 metres long the decomposing whale is staring to get a “very smelly” and potentially dangerous.

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