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Sperm whale strandings on Coast beaches

Two whales strandings have occurred in the Wharekahika/Hicks Bay-Te Araroa area over the past week.

One was a three-metre pygmy sperm whale and the other an 11m sperm whale.

“Both were dead on arrival and in advanced states of decomposition,” Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk said.

“The pygmy sperm is in a location where it cannot be buried. The sperm whale was buried yesterday (Monday).”

Anyone who comes across a stranded whale, dead or alive, should report it to 0800 DOC HOT (362 468).

New Zealand is a hotspot for marine mammal strandings. Since 1840, more than 5000 strandings of whales and dolphins have been recorded around the country's coasts.

Strandings occur all year round and usually involve just one or two animals.

DoC is legally responsible for implementing the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.

This means DoC is in charge at any marine mammal stranding events.

As the lead decision-maker, DoC responsibilities include —

■ Protecting the welfare of stranded animals.

■ Disposing of any dead marine mammals.

■ Enabling cultural protocols. This involves consulting with local iwi and hapu through every step of the stranding, including rescue, euthanasia, sampling and disposal.

■ Enabling research through the collection of scientific samples.

■ Ensuring the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and the public.