Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Iwi and DOC are saddened, that despite hours of efforts to save a stranded southern bottlenose whale at Port Waikato, the whale has died.

Date:  02 November 2018

DOC staff responded to a call from a local conservationist, about the stranded whale near the river mouth at Port Waikato this morning.

Local volunteer firefighters were on the ground with the whale when DOC and Project Jonah arrived on site. They were joined by members of the community who gave solid support throughout the day.

The 750 kg whale was described as emaciated with rake marks on its body and not in very good condition.

Despite this, the small team did their best to keep the whale comfortable, cool and damp while waiting for the tide to rise.

DOC and Project Jonah were going to make an attempt to float the whale when the tide was high enough. The team worked for hours in the water waiting for the tide, however just as tidal conditions changed to refloat, the whale it gave its last breath.

Despite the sad outcome, DOC Waikato Operations Manager, Ray Scrimgeour, expressed his gratitude for the support of Project Jonah and the team of committed members of the community who staunchly stayed with the whale throughout the day and evening.

Strandings of southern bottlenose whales are rare. There have been only two recorded in New Zealand in the last ten years: in the Bay of Plenty in 2017, and Whanganui in 2011. Five incidents have been recorded in the last 20 years.

Cause of death and cause of rake marks are unknown at this stage, samples of the whale will be sent for analysis and research.

Additional information

  • The whale is estimated to weigh about 750 kg and is 4.7 m long.
  • The whale was buried on Monday afternoon by DOC staff, with the guidance of local kaitiaki, who advises of the burial site and performed karakia.
  • Project Jonah: Facts about southern bottlenose whales 


Ray Scrimgeour, Waikato Operations Manager
Mobile: +64 27 292 9032

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