Project Jonah trains Golden Bay locals in whale rescue

By: Project Jonah New Zealand  05-Apr-2012
Keywords: Whales

February 21, 2012

The Project Jonah training tour is in full swing and will hit New Zealand’s notorious stranding hotspot, Farewell Spit this week.

Having already experienced three mass strandings in the area this season, we’re appealing to the experience of Golden Bay locals to bolster our first line emergency response.

With the help and generosity of local businesses, we’ll train 75 local residents to join thousands of Kiwis on our marine mammal medic database.

“We’ve got trained medics in Golden Bay, but we need more. Farewell Spit is a hot bed for mass strandings and we rely on locals to be the first line of response,” says Project Jonah CEO Kimberly Muncaster.

“Golden Bay locals have been rescuing whales for decades, so they know what they’re doing. But some residents don’t feel confident coming to a stranding without training,” she says.

The first course will run on Thursday 23 February at Golden Bay High School, where 30 Year 12 students will learn critical life saving skills.

Sponsored by the Friedlander Foundation, the students will spend the morning in the classroom and the afternoon at the beach learning the basic techniques for whale rescue.

“We’re looking to these young people to be the next generation of whale rescuers, many may have already attended strandings and they’ve got the energy and passion we love,” says Ms Muncaster.

The trainee medics will also get a chance to save an inflatable whale and explore the many reasons why whales strand.

On Saturday 25 February, Project Jonah will train an additional 35 locals to become marine mammal medics, at Pohara Hall.

There are still a few places available on the Saturday course, for those locals wishing to attend please call Kimberly Muncaster on 021 682 142.

“Our one-day whale rescue course gives people the confidence and skills to help when whales strand. Saving whales can be dangerous work, so it’s important people understand the risks so they can keep themselves and others safe too.”

“Every stranding is different and we learn something new. It’s important we share new learnings with those at the heart of stranding rescue – the locals,” says Ms Muncaster.

When trainees complete the course they receive a whale rescue handbook, a stranding cue card and a high visibility vest. After that, they’re added to our national stranding database and will be on standby for emergency callout.

We couldn’t run this training without the support of the locals says Ms Muncaster.

“The enthusiasm and support from the area has been fantastic, more than 30 local businesses are sponsoring the event,” she says.

Principle sponsor BNZ Takaka is funding 10 places on the public course. Store Manager Louise Neave says strandings are a topical issue in the bay.

“Most of the team at the Takaka branch are animal lovers, and it’s good to be able to do something local that the community relates to,” says Ms Neave.

BNZ will also provide a wrap-up BBQ at the end of the day, giving newly trained medics a chance to share their experiences and socialise after a hard day at the beach.

“We’re really looking forward to getting to know more locals and hearing the stories of people in the area who’ve been rescuing whales in Golden Bay for years. They’re the people we rely on to be our first port of call in an emergency. They’re our eyes and ears and the first to deliver first aid,” says Ms Muncaster.

The event is sponsored by a diverse range of businesses from Takaka, Nelson, Kaiterteri and Wellington.

“Whales are always stranding on Farewell Spit, it seems the more people that are trained to save them the better,” says Belinda Barnes of Harcourts.

Interislander will transport the Project Jonah team and its equipment to Picton this week, and will also offer free travel across the Cook Strait for Project Jonah marine mammal medics attending future strandings in Golden Bay.


With thanks to the following sponsors

Principle Sponsor:

Silver Sponsors:

Bronze Sponsors:

, 305 Sandy Bay Marahau Road, Marahua

, 46 Martin Street, Monaco, Nelson

, Kaiteriteri Beach, Kaiteriteri

, 87 Commercial Streeet, Takaka

Bay Takeaway, 46 Commercial Street, Takaka

, Tasman Street, Collingwood

Courtyard Cafe, Commercial Street, Takaka

, 62 Commercial Street, Takaka

, 13 Willow Street, Takaka

Golden Bay Gallery Arts & Crafts, 69 Commercial Street, Takaka

, Commercial Street, Takaka

Golden Bay Organics, 47 Commercial Street, Takaka

Grasshopper, 30 Commercial Street, Takaka

, 4A Commercial Street, Takaka

, 65 Commercial Street, Takaka

Imagine Designs, 96B Commercial Street, Takaka

Commercial Street, Takaka

Roots Bar, 1 Commercial Street, Takaka

, 67 Martins Farm Road, Kaiteriteri

, 1 Hoddy Alley, Takaka

, 98A Commercial Street, Takaka

, Inlet Road, Kaiteriteri

The Curry Leaf, 5B Commercial Street, Takaka

The Little Cafe, 65A Commercial Street, Takaka

, 'Down Town',  Takaka

, 98 Commercial Street, Takaka

Keywords: Whales

Contact Project Jonah New Zealand


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Other news and updates from Project Jonah New Zealand


Interislander offers free travel to whale strandings

Volunteers will need to show their Project Jonah marine mammal medic identity card at the terminal in order to get their free journey approved, and they can bring their cars along too so long as there is space on-board. We’re delighted to announce Interislander has extended its support of Project Jonah by offering free travel across the Cook Strait for trained marine mammal medics attending strandings in the South Island.


Whales Restrand Overnight

Our volunteers have been outstanding and have put their rescue training to good use in support of the Department of Conservation’s stranding response,” she says. Unfortunately the stranded whales are now also further along the spit and on the extreme boundary of our ability to reach them for another rescue attempt. If there are any sightings of pilot whales in or around Golden Bay, people should call 0800 DOC HOT or 0800 4 WHALE immediately.