20 December 2011
The hotline to Project Jonah will be open all hours this Christmas and New Year as our whale rescue volunteers remain on high alert for peak stranding season.
Since the stranding season got underway this year, we’ve already helped rescue whales and dolphins stranded at Kakamatua Bay on the west coast of Auckland, Papamoa Beach, and Ohope Beach in the Bay of Plenty.
The key to a successful whale rescue operation is the quick response of the public, so we’re urging holidaymakers to be extra vigilant as they head to the beach over the festive period.
“We’re encouraging all New Zealanders to keep their eyes on the beach for signs of a stranding,” says Project Jonah CEO Kimberly Muncaster.
“We need people to contact us or DOC immediately if they see any unusual whale behaviour close to shore or discover a dolphin or whale stranded. The sooner we’re notified, the greater the chance of us saving them. We rely on everyday Kiwis to be our eyes all over the country,” she says.
The team at Project Jonah are manning the 0800 4 WHALE emergency hotline 24-hours-a-day throughout the festive season.
Each year whales and dolphins strand on New Zealand shores, and while some are sick or injured, others are healthy and just need a helping hand back out to sea.
However, despite having one of the highest stranding rates in the world, New Zealand also has one of the highest rescue success rates says Ms Muncaster.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR AND WHO TO CALL
Pilot whales are the species most commonly associated with mass strandings in New Zealand. They travel in large groups of 10 – 60 and will often merge with other groups to form much larger pods.
Pilot whales are an oceanic species that venture occasionally into coastal waters. Observation of this species close to shore should be reported immediately to the Department of Conservation on 0800 DOC HOT or to Project Jonah on 0800 4 WHALE.
Pilot whales can be identified by their dark grey/black colouring, bulbous head and low, long and broad-based dorsal fin. Male pilot whales can grow up to 6 metres long.