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The last song of the whales, Golden Bay


It was one of the biggest whale tragedies in the history of New Zealand. It happened in early February 2017 at Golden Bay in the North of the South Island. As a documentary photographer I was travelling around New Zealand. I was there by chance, just at the right moment. I drove up to Golden Bay and met the environmentalists of Project Jonah, a local NGO for the protection of the whales.

I was very touched by the great and unselfishly dedication of those people. Within hours they came from all parts of the country to help the stranded whales and support them with water from the ocean. Sadly about 300 grind whales were dying during the next hours and days. The environmentalists could save about 100 whales by pulling them back to the open water, 19 of it swam back to the beach and died too.

I was lucky to meet Brent Hartshorne from the Department of Conservation (DOC), who drove me along the locked beach to the whales so I could take pictures and report about that tragedy. There is no explanation for the dying of the whales. “Maybe they lose orientation. Whales are very social animals. When the female matriarch is sick and swims to the beach the whole flock will follow her. Out of loyality”, explained Brent. “Normally one or two whales die here every year but not to such an extent.” The mystery of the whales will continue but the environmentalists of Project Jonah won’t give up. Not today and not tomorrow. They will be there again, trying to save and protect the marine mammals also in the future.


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