Spotting a Southern right whale around Banks Peninsula is a very special occurrence, and is exactly what the passengers on the Akaroa Dolphins cruise experienced on Tuesday inside Damons Bay.
The Akaroa Dolphins crew, who normally focus on spotting the rare Hector’s Dolphins, and their passengers were in awe of the whale and watched in delight as the curious creature cruised near the shoreline, displaying its playful side by spinning onto its back showing its underbelly and fins, before spinning back around and putting on a show with its tail. It’s their first sighting of a Southern right whale since 2012.
Skipper Ian Bain said, “It’s always a magnificent sight seeing whales around the peninsula, but even more special when it is one that’s so rare”.
The New Zealand population of the Southern right whale decreased dramatically due to whaling in the mid to late 1800s, and numbers were estimated to get as low as 100. The numbers are now slowly increasing, at a rate believed to be around 5% per year. The name ‘Right whale‘ was given as it was the right whale to kill as it floated when killed and made the whalers job easier to harvest its meat and blubber.
More regular sightings of Southern right whales are recorded around the Auckland and Campbell Islands, which is where the sub-adult spotted on Banks Peninsula may have recently come from. A team from the University of Otago recently returned from their successful voyage to the Auckland Islands, capturing never before seen footage of the Southern right whale population ( http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/08/drones-capture-unique-habitat-of-whales-in-the-auckland-islands.html ).
On Wednesday the whale spent the day in Flea Bay, a marine reserve on Banks Peninsula located one bay further north from its location on Tuesday.
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