NZ article about sperm whales

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Posted by on September 21, 2004 at 14:34:00:


Burial of a sperm whale on Auckland's coast was on hold yesterday as Ngati Whatua debated whether to attempt a deboning of the carcass so it could be carved and reassembled.

The 12m whale carcass was discovered yesterday morning at Muriwai Beach on Auckland's west coast and is believed to have died at sea at least two days before.

Under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, the Department of Conservation has responsibility for disposing of whale carcasses and under departmental protocol, jawbones are usually handed to local iwi for carving.

But DoC officer Paul Keeling said Ngati Whatua at the site were considering boning the carcass and re-assembling it fully carved.

"It would be incredible but it's a big job and would be a few years in the making," he said.

DoC had trouble finding a bulldozer big enough to shift the whale, finally moving it to the edge of the Muriwai golf course onto Auckland Regional Council land.

Staff were last night scouting around for a truck with a big enough winch to tow the dead animal into the sand dunes where it would eventually be buried.

The whale was thought to be a relatively young male and had no obvious signs of injury, Mr Keeling said.

Last November a dozen dead sperm whales were found on the same coast but further south, between Karekare and Whatipu.

Whale facts

* Adult sperm whales range in length from around 9m to 18m.

* They can dive to depths of more than 1000m in search of their main source of food, giant squid.

* They were once common around NZ, but their numbers were greatly reduced by whaling.

* They can still be seen at adventure spots like Kaikoura.

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