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Project Jonah Volunteers Keep Watch for Whales

Press Release
16 November, 2012

Project Jonah Volunteers Keep Watch for Whales

Project Jonah Marine Mammal Medics are today monitoring the Golden Bay shoreline for signs of further whale strandings.

A pod of 28 long-finned pilot whales stranded on Farewell Spit yesterday high up the beach at the peak tide mark. Twelve died and the Department of Conservation made the decision to euthanize the remaining 16.

Project Jonah CEO Kimberly Muncaster says this stranding could be the beginning of a string of similar events and volunteers are watching bays and beaches for any sign of milling or stranded whales.

“It is very possible yesterday’s whales were from a much larger pod and it’s not uncommon to have a series of strandings in quick succession,” Kimberly says.

“Our Medics and members of the public are searching the area by foot, boat and car to prevent a possible repeat of yesterday’s sad event.”

Project Jonah Medics met at Triangle Flat at the base of Farewell Spit early this morning to co-ordinate their efforts monitoring the local coastline.

“We’re on the ground and the water doing all we can to prevent another stranding,” Kimberly says.

“We ask the public to be vigilant and keep a watch on the immediate coastline around Golden Bay, and if they can join the co-ordinated Project Jonah response we would be very pleased to see them.”

Volunteers should meet Project Jonah at Triangle Flat on Farewell Spit, but they must come prepared.

“They should bring wet weather gear, plenty of warm clothing, food, drink and sun protection,” Kimberly says.

“We don’t know what today is going to throw up, so people should be ready for any eventuality.”

Any sightings of pilot whales in the Golden Bay area should be reported to the Department of Conservation on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or 0800 4 WHALE (0800 494 253).

Long-finned pilot whales are small, black whales with a bulbous head. They are social animals and tend to travel in large groups. They are regular mass stranders on New Zealand shores, especially in the peak stranding season from November through to March.


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