Three sperm whales ranging from 14 to 17m in length have died after becoming stranded on a beach on Northland’s west coast.
The stranding of three males on Ripiro Beach, west of Dargaville, were reported to the Department of Conservation (DOC) earlier this week, and despite the best efforts of rescuers, they died.
The cause of death of the three whales is unknown at this stage and samples have been taken for genetics, toxicology, and stable isotope analysis.
“We are working in collaboration with Waikaretu Marae and Te Uri o Hau environs. Our main focus now is ensuring the safety of the public and the burial of the whales,” DOC’s Kauri Coast acting operations manager Stephanie Hayes said.
The public were asked to stay away from the site, just south of Baylys Beach, until the burial process is complete.
“We are starting a flensing process working with our whānaunga Ngāti Wai and Te Roroa,” kaitiaki Colin French, a spokesperson for Te Uri o Hau Waikaretu Marae, said.