a lengthy sandbank curved
across broad Golden Bay
staunch against the surging
ocean behind, damming sand
inside its sheltering bulk.
Conservation staff and volunteers
revive and refloat occasional pods
of stranded whales on its waterline.
Disaster came recently as over four
hundred whales stranded overnight,
three hundred dead by morning.
A nationwide call. Conservation
staff, local residents, passing
tourists, slept in cars by night
sat with whales by day in shallow
water, holding them upright, pouring
buckets of water on their backs,
talking and singing to whales who
clicked, squeaked, whistled to
humans and each other.
At three high tides they steered
whales out to sea, stood with linked
arms across the bay in shoulder high
water to prevent the whales’ return.
At last for twenty whales, distressed,
exhausted, euthanasia brought relief.
Far out to sea other whales had heard
their calls, crossed the ocean, the beach,
to their aid. Again the rescuers worked
to reverse another stranding.
After three days the last of the whales
returned to sea, the rescuers were
done with their long drawn out task.
10 – 12 February 2017 rescuers worked on a double whale stranding.
We get whale strandings from time to time in New Zealand, but this
double stranding was far worse than previous strandings, and a
gut wrenching time for the rescuers.