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Sad ending to save beached baby whale

Saturday 20 August 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Environment, National

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Sad ending to save beached baby whale
The baby calf whale that was stranded in Aitutaki’s lagoon. Picture: Bubbles Below Aitutaki/ 22081945

Efforts to try and save a baby whale (calf) in Aitutaki’s lagoon on Wednesday ended sadly when the calf was discovered dead the following day.

Due to the large swells pounding the reef it appears that the calf had been thrown over the reef where it suffered many cuts, and into the lagoon where it became stranded on Honeymoon island.

Quinton Schofield, the manager of Wet & Wild Aitutaki, and kite surfers made many wholehearted attempts to urge the calf into deeper waters, pushing it all the way through the shallow into the deep of the lagoon.

The deceased calf was discovered the next morning (Thursday) on the Maina side of the Honeymoon/Maina channel.

Whale researcher, Nan Hauser flew from Rarotonga to Aitutaki on Thursday and estimated the age of the “male” calf to be approximately 10 to 15 days old.

Onu Hewett from Bubbles Below Aitutaki said the visiting New Zealand film crew on Aitutaki who were collecting content for the New Zealand TV series “My Blue Backyard” filming the Humpback whales, documented the sad fate of the baby whale.

A drone was sent up to try and locate the calf’s mother outside the Maina reef in the ocean. It appears that the mother was located acting pretty distressed which is quite understandable for any mother to go through, Hewett said.

Measurements and samples of the calf were collected by the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) Aitutaki station officer Richard Story and his team.

Hewett would like to acknowledge everyone involved in the efforts of the baby whale – MMR Aitutaki’s Richard Story, Joe Katangi, Wet & Wild’s Quinton Schofield, Nan Hauser, NZ Film crew (Kina, Ross, Brady, Kim and Wade), John Beasley of Akaau Film and Bubbles Below Aitutaki surface safety diver Samantha van Iersel.