No further sightings of entangled humpback whale in Bay of Islands
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionThere have been no further sightings of an entangled humpback whale, which was last seen in the Bay of Islands around 11 am on 29 September.
Date: 04 October 2010
There have been no further sightings of an entangled humpback whale, which was last seen in the Bay of Islands around 11 am on 29 September. At that time, Department of Conservation staff received reports of the humpback whale, with a short piece of rope and a clear plastic buoy entangled near its mouth, just hours before they had managed to free another humpback whale off the Doubtless Bay coast, in the Far North.
A rescue operation was planned for the Bay of Islands humpback; however, these plans stalled due to bad weather. The whale has not been re-sighted since.
The Department would like to thank tourist boat operators in the Bay of Islands and Tutukaka area who have been on the lookout for the 12-15 metre humpback.
At this time of the year, humpback whales typically migrate south along the East Coast from their breeding and calving grounds in tropical waters to their feeding grounds in the circumpolar waters of Antarctica.
The Department of Conservation’s Bay of Islands Marine Mammal Ranger, Elke Reufels says, “It is possible that the entangled humpback whale may be heading south. DOC offices at Whangarei, Warkworth and Auckland have been alerted, and tourism boat operators in the Hauraki Gulf are now also keeping an eye out for the animal.”
The Department is asking the public to report any humpback whale sightings, especially in the Bay of Islands and southwards along the North Eastern Coast and within the Hauraki Gulf, to 0800 DOC HOT.
Elke Reufels says, “The entanglement may not be obvious if only the animal’s back is seen or only the tail fluke is visible. By law, boats must keep at least 50 metres away from whales, to minimise disturbance to the animals and to ensure boat passenger safety. If the animal is re-sighted, and if conditions are favourable, a rescue operation will be attempted. “
“In Doubtless Bay last Wednesday, a team of DOC staff, in collaboration with killer whale researcher Ingrid Visser, successfully freed a humpback whale with seine net wrapped around its head and tail. The same team lead by Kaikoura based whale disentanglement expert Mike Morrissey, would assist with the latest entangled marine mammal. Any interference with a large marine mammal such as a humpback whale weighing up to 30 tonnes requires extreme caution. Therefore it is essential that those involved in the rescue operation are well trained and have the correct equipment.”
Weather hampers attempts to free an entangled humpback whale in the Bay of Islands - media release 30 September 2010