Date: 01 June 2010
The Department of Conservation is calling on the public to report any sightings of southern right whales along the New Zealand coastline.
A sighting near the beach at Te Angiangi, in the Hawkes Bay region has signalled the start of this year’s whale migration season and the beginning of the Department of Conservation’s southern right whale research programme.
“It’s a great opportunity for the public to see large whales on the coast and to help out with whale research” said Laura Boren, DOC’s Marine Mammal Coordinator.
Southern right whale
The sightings also help support the Otago University research programme that is looking into photo identification and habitat use of these animals.
“The number of whales sighted around the mainland doubled between 2008 and 2009 and with the public’s ongoing help the 2009 season was a success for DOC’s research program.”
“The research is important as it helps us to track the recovery of the southern right whale population and to better understand the relationship between the whales seen around the mainland and those from the New Zealand subantarctic region” said Boren.
From data analysed so far by scientists at the University of Auckland, there have been three matches between the mainland and subantarctic whales.
The continuation of this research will enable the Department to take measures to ensure the whales have the right level of protection.
Any southern right whale sightings should be reported immediately on the DOC hotline, 0800 DOCHOT (0800 36 24 68).