[MARMAM] Gray's beaked whale, Auckland, NZ

William Rossiter rossiter at csiwhalesalive.org
Thu Feb 26 13:49:48 PST 2009


NZ Herald,  Thursday Feb 26, 2009
Rare whale visit at Auckland beach

By  Eloise Gibson 

An almost unheard-of visit from an elusive beaked whale has 
conservationists torn between rejoicing about the rare guest and 
fretting for its safety.

A gray's beaked whale has made a temporary home in the shallow waters 
off the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, confounding experts who say the 
deep-sea, squid-hunting whales are almost never seen near shore unless 
they are dead or dying.

Conservationists from the whale protection group Project Jonah and the 
Department of Conservation have no idea why the whale has decided to 
hang around in the shallows north of Auckland.

They are keen to study it but fear too many curious onlookers could 
drive the visitor in to shore.

Te Papa marine mammal specialist Anton van Helden said yesterday that he 
had studied beaked whales for 20 years and never seen one alive. "This 
is the first record that I know of of an animal frequenting a fairly 
shallow coastal beach for any period of time."

Project Jonah chief executive Kimberly Muncaster said the whale appeared 
to be young and underweight and was far from the deep ocean where it 
would normally hunt and roam. The 4m-long creature had been mistaken for 
a dolphin by some locals because of its long beak and dark grey body.

"The longer it stays in the area the greater the risk of it becoming 
injured by passing boats, kayaks and jet skis or stranding," said Ms 

It is illegal to swim with whales in New Zealand waters and boaties are 
being reminded to move slowly and stay at least 50m away.

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