Crowds flock to see giant sperm whale washed up on New Zealand beach
Hundreds of people gathered to see an enormous sperm whale that washed up on a New Zealand beach on Wednesday.
The 15-metre, 40-tonne whale was discovered by locals near the Kapiti Boat Club on Paraparaumu Beach.
Crowds gathered to touch and take photographs of the magnificent animal before the carcass was cordoned off by Kapiti Coast District Council for health reasons.
The Conservation Department later moved the whale using diggers, and it was buried today (Thursday) in a large grave on a public-excluded site south of Paraparamau Beach.
According to stuff.co.nz, local iwi took the jaw bone using knives, saws and hooks, before the whale was buried, and will also name the whale.
Kaumatua Don Te Maipi performed a karakia yesterday (Maori incantations and prayers performed to ensure a favourable outcome of important undertakings) and said it was like a funeral.
He added that he was delighted so many people came to the beach to show their respects.
Te Papa collection manager of marine mammals, Anton van Helden, said the wear on its teeth and scarring around its head indicated it was probably an old whale.
According to the Scotsman, he said: "They're obviously significant animals, it's the world's largest toothed predator and certainly, it's a significant thing for the local community.
"It probably died of suffocation due to being stranded but what caused it to come in is another equation.
"They may suffer the same old age conditions as we do such as heart disease and arthritis, which could contribute to the cause of death."
Adult male sperm whales weigh up to 57 tonnes, can be up to 20 metres long and can live for 65 years. They are found in all oceans and are classified as vulnerable.
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