Tasman Leader : January 23rd 2014
Big air on skatepark tour page 4 THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 2014 Rescue operation: Volunteers attend to a pod of stranded whales at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay. Photo: CHARLOTTE SQUIRE Rescuers work hard H By CHARLOTTE SQUIRE undreds of volunteers trekked out to Farewell Spit over the past few weeks to try and save dozens of pilot whales stranded in the shallow bay. Some volunteers were from the national whale saving group Project Jonah, some were tourists out for a walk on the spit who were suddenly invited to help with a whale stranding. Few could avoid being affected by the experience of caring for a large whale in need. They were an international assortment of compasssionate folk, some had never touched a whale before. For many it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On Monday, more than 100 volunteers refloated 46 whales just in time to avoid the tail-end of a tropical cyclone. Several whales didn’t make it, either dying naturally or having to be euthanased by Department of Conservation staff because they were suffering too much. The Project Jonah volunteer network, boosted by Facebook and text messaging, brought in volunteers from all over New Zealand and updated supporters frequently on social media. Brooke Cains, 14, visiting Golden Bay from Auckland, said her whale rescue experience on Sunday had been amazing. ‘‘I’m actually terrified of the ocean but when we were pushing the whales around in the water I felt completely safe. ‘‘When we were pouring water on the whales it felt like they knew we were helping them,’’ she said. Brooke and her Dad worked with one whale all Sunday, calling him Paikea and getting ‘‘kind of attached’’ to their new 2.5 tonne friend. They rolled him over on to his belly and worked to keep his fins clear of sand. At high tide they helped to refloat him. ‘‘We got him pretty far out to sea and he started swimming,’’ she said. By the end of the day Brooke said she felt exhausted but proud because they had helped these animals that needed assistance to get off the beach. She said others around them named the whales they were working with too, calling them Sunshine, Sampson and even Lara Croft. The whale pod Brooke was working with were refloated on Monday and had swum strongly out into deeper water but they were seen again in shallow water near Farewell Spit on Tuesday morning. Last week department rangers, Project Jonah volunteers, locals and many tourists who just happened to be in the area, worked hard in strong, exhausting winds that sent some volunteers home early, tired and shivering. Everyone worked hard to save 13 pilot whales who were stranded 6km from Triangle Flats. Invercargill-based father of four Hank Oudhoff, on holiday with his family when they heard the whales needed help, ended up working all day, pouring water over a large whale with his wife and two boys. He too said it was an amazing experience. The cold wind wasn’t affecting him and his family as they were from the south and used to minus two conditions, he said. Oldest son Kirk said working with the whale was a bit of a change from rearing cattle, while his brother Travis said it felt awesome to save another animal’s life. Meanwhile Jessie Langdon, visiting from Waikato, spent the afternoon ‘‘keeping the water in a pool’’ to pour over the whales as the tide crept out. Later that week five of those whales died naturally while eight had to be euthanased.
January 16th 2014
January 30th 2014