Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Antarctic Blue Whale at Matakana

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19071205-2-1
Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 05 DECEMBER 1907 p002

In December of 1907 a large Antarctic Blue whale was seen stranded near Matakana in the Rodney District. Residents were quick to take the opportunity to capture the unfortunate cetacean, by roping its tail and tying it to a kedge anchor. The whale was also shot several times. It died later on after restranding and ended up being stripped for its blubber.

A large whale was observed a few days ago, lying some distance out at sea from Matakana (says the "Auckland Star") and a party of residents succeeded in securing its tail with a noose attached to a kedge anchor. Several bullets were also discharged into the huge mass of flesh without any apparent result, but the cetacean afterwards obligingly beached itself at a convenient spot. its captors stripped the carcase of about two tons of blubber. The dimensions of the carcase were found to be 69 feet in length, 36ft. in girth, 12 feet across the tail, and 12 feet across the jaws.

Colonist 9 December 1907

A search into various biology websites reveals that the whale in the image is most likely an Antarctic Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus ssp. intermedia ). Blue whales are now classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Allegedly they are now fully protected, however Blue whale meat has been found in Japanese fish markets in the recent past proven by DNA testing.

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