Video: 'Sick' Raglan whale on its way home

Raglan's large and unexpected guest is on its way home.

A mature sperm whale drifted into Raglan Harbour on Thursday, prompting concerns that it could beach itself on the shore of Wainamu Beach.

Ray Scrimgour, Waikato operations manager for the Department of Conservation, told Newshub that it seemed there had been a "tragedy averted".

“Just a little while ago I heard that it had crossed the bar or got around the bar and got back into open sea.”

Locals have said that the whale, which is up to 15 metres long, looked "very sick" - speculation that Mr Scrimgour said there was no evidence for at this point.

"It’s certainly been rolling over in the harbour and things like that, but whales do that from time to time so that may not be an indication of sickness."

Locals have approached the whale on paddleboards.
Locals approached the whale on paddleboards. Photo credit: Tim Wills

The incident drew a fair crowd of spectators, which Mr Scrimgour said could be both a blessing and a curse.

“There’s lots of people who have been helping and are willing to help. The other side of the coin is that, sadly, too frequently we get rubber-neckers and people who may want to help but often end up getting in the way."

He said DoC welcomed the positive energy of the locals - some of whom sang or said a karakia for the whale - but wanted to remind people to keep their distance from rescue efforts.

"There have been a few issues today with people getting too close to the whale, possibly stressing the whale but also making the efforts to get the whale out to sea more difficult. There’s a risk of stressing the whale or causing it to behave unpredictably or strand." 

Ray Scrimgour from DOC says people need to keep their distance from whale rescues.
Ray Scrimgour from DOC says people need to keep their distance from whale rescues. Photo credit: Jo Hamblyn

While whale sightings are common off the coast of Raglan, it is very rare for one to enter the inlet.

Drone footage showed the whale floating despondently, spouting a small amount of water from its blowhole.