Managing the Welfare of Marine Mammals at Mass Strandings in Golden Bay, New Zealand

  • Mike OgleEmail author
Part of the Animal Welfare book series (AWNS, volume 17)


In this chapter, issues of marine mammal welfare are illustrated through recounting three mass stranding events of long-finned pilot whales which occurred in Golden Bay, New Zealand. For two of the mass strandings discussed, both were reported soon after the whales stranded and had good access and high numbers of volunteers assisting Department of Conservation (DOC) staff. One of these strandings had a high refloating success rate (89% of 345 whales), the other a moderate success rate (39% of 198 whales). This contrasted with the third stranding (comprising of 105 whales) which occurred in a remote location with difficult access and was first observed from an aircraft, 1 or possibly 2 days after the initial stranding. When DOC staff arrived at this remote site, less than one quarter of the pod was still alive, and these were suffering considerably. Given the whales’ poor condition, high degree of suffering and low chance of survival, they were euthanised following DOC guidelines. These three mass strandings were relatively large and if combined accounted for approximately one third of the nearly 2000 cetaceans that stranded in Golden Bay between 1990 and 2016. New Zealand has a relatively high occurrence of strandings, with an average of 300 cetaceans stranded annually in the last 26 years. Stranding events are recorded on the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Stranding Database, which is maintained by the DOC. This government organisation has statutory responsibility for management of marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Its role, obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and use of volunteers at mass strandings are briefly described.



We would like to thank Kay Stark for the assistance with the 1991 stranding information and the Takaka DOC staff who have so thoroughly recorded communications in the whale incident management log books, from which much of the 2015 stranding material was referenced. The quality of this text was improved by comments from Greg Napp (DOC, Golden Bay) and two other anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ConservationTakakaNew Zealand

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