During the mid-19th century shore whalers operated from many locations on the East Coast. Through the 20th and into the 21st century whales still populated these waters. On 18 March 1970 nearly 60 sperm whales stranded along Wainui Beach, some of them, as in this image, on the jagged rocks at the base of Tatapōuri Point. Observers recalled that the sea was red with blood. Controversy broke out when some sightseers tried to take body parts as souvenirs, in one instance with a chainsaw. None of the whales survived; a grave 150 metres long, 10 metres wide and 5 metres deep was excavated to bury them.
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Department of Conservation
Reference: Alan N. Baker, Whales and dolphins of New Zealand and Australia. Wellington: Biological Society, Victoria University of Wellington, 1972
Photograph by Faulkner
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