Maersk Ship Carries Dead Whale into New Zealand Port


New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) is disposing of a dead 14-metre whale which came into Tauranga Harbour on the front of the Lexa Maersk container vessel.

DOC staff worked with the Tauranga Moana iwi, a Māori tribe based in and around the Tauranga Harbour and Bay of Plenty, to remove the whale, believed to be a Bryde’s whale, found slumped over the vessel’s bulbous bow.

The 4041 TEU container vessel came from Brisbane and it is not known where it met the whale.

Jeff Milham, DOC Tauranga Rotorua District Operations Manager, said it appeared to be “an unfortunate incident at sea”.


Whale lies over the bulbous bow of the ship. Credit: Sun Live


DOC staff removed the carcass from the ship late yesterday afternoon (October 4, 2015) and secured it in a safe location in Tauranga Harbour overnight.

Subject to having an appropriate site, the whale carcass was likely to be moved on full tide today.

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There are no agreed population estimates for Bryde’s whales in any ocean basin, but the DOC estimates that it may be in the tens of thousands worldwide.

They are considered common in New Zealand waters, where they feed on schooling fish and krill.

They reach 12-15 metres in length and a weight of 13-22 tons with females being larger than males.

Milham said: “We are now working with Tauranga Moana iwi to arrange for an appropriate location for the carcass to be disposed of.”

The Lexa Maersk has now left the Port of Tauranga.

Read more: Most vessels visiting the Port of Vancouver have honoured a request to sail more slowly to protect killer whales in Haro Strait

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