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Mangawhai-Pakiri locals asked to look for pilot whales

Posted at 9:45am Wednesday 18 Sep, 2019

Voluntary whale rescue organisation Project Jonah is asking Mangawhai-Pakiri locals to be on the lookout for a pod of pilot whales currently 1km offshore.

Last night a number of Mangawhai locals got in touch with Project Jonah about a pod of pilot whales seen close to the shore, volunteer communications manager Louisa Hawkes says.

In the early morning Project Jonah received news that four whales had stranded at Ruakaka with three dead and one alive.

The call went out to the public for help through various community Facebook pages including Mangawhai and Wellsford, but Louisa says the call is now off.

“Despite best efforts the fourth whale has also died and we are asking people to stay away from the beach as the process for prayer and blessing with local iwi needs to begin.”

Locals stayed with the whale on the beach until it passed away, and it is still unclear why it died or why the whales stranded in the first place.

The rest of the pod has been spotted one kilometre offshore heading south towards Mangawhai-Pakiri.

“Pilot whales are prolific stranders and there is a high chance they could beach again so we are asking locals to look out.

“It would be great if anyone on the coast is able to go to the beach to check and report any sightings to 0800 494 253. We have seen overnight how far they can travel in a short time.”

Louisa says little is known about where and why New Zealand pilot whales travel with most data on the sea mammals collected from strandings events.

If help is needed, Project Jonah will put the word out via its Facebook page.

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