Island residents think dead creature found on beach is a rare whale

By Alan Tristram

Residents on a small island to the east of Kapiti have been trying to identify a rare whale, or possibly dolphin, washed up on their beach at night this week.

Karl Webber, who lives on Motongarara Island, just off the south-east coast of  Kapiti Island, says he thinks the 4.7-metre creature is probably a Scamperdown whale.

In mid-January, a massive Sperm whale was washed up on Paraparaumu Beach, just a few kilometres away on the mainland.

Mr Webber says the creature he discovered on his island beach has two large teeth and a dorsal fin and has been badly injured, perhaps by a passing ship.

Motongarara Island, also known as Fisherman’s Island, is home of some members of the Webber family, who formerly had large holdings on Kapiti — and who will shortly lodge a Waitangi Treaty claim in connection with land taken by the Crown.

Karl Webber, who now lives full-time on Motongarara Island is a keen conservationist — and, with his partner Jane Smith, takes a keen interest in all aspects of marine and bird life around Kapiti Island.

Wikipedia says the Scamperdown Whale is usually known as Gray’s beaked whale, or sometimes known as Haast’s beaked whale, or the southern beaked whale.

It’s one of the better-known members of the genus Mesoplodon.


DOC says it understands a whale washed up on the eastern side of Kapiti Island last week (Anzac day to be precise) and was checked by DOC staff.

It washed off again overnight and so this is likely to be the same animal.