DoC seeks help spotting southern right whales

Southern rights can be seen anywhere from the sub-Antarctic islands to as far north as the east coast of Northland. Photo / Oamaru Mail
Southern rights can be seen anywhere from the sub-Antarctic islands to as far north as the east coast of Northland. Photo / Oamaru Mail

The Department of Conservation is on the look-out again for migrating southern right whales and it wants your help.

The public is being asked to report any sightings along the coast this season.

The species were hunted to the brink of extinction but a recent report by the University of Auckland and the University of Otago confirmed an increase in numbers of southern right whales around mainland New Zealand.

Southern rights can be seen anywhere from the sub-Antarctic islands to as far north as the east coast of Northland. The season lasts from May through to October.

DoC's Marine Advisor Laura Boren said videos and pictures are also very valuable to researchers in order to confirm which whales are on the move.

"As we learn more about them we gain an understanding what we need to do to protect the magnificent creatures," she said.

The DoC number is 0800 DOC HOT (362 468) and images or videos can be emailed here.

Facts about southern right whales:

• Southern right whales are usually black, have a v-shaped blowhole spray and have no dorsal fin.

• Adults can average up to 14.5 metres in length. Often cow and calf pairs are sighted as well as individuals.

• They have white growths on their heads called callosities. This is the most useful part of a whale to photograph because each whale has a unique pattern of callosities. Photos of the left side of the whale are best.

If you encounter whales please abide by marine mammal protection regulations and remember to keep a distance of 50m from the whale and 200m if a calf is present.

- Newstalk ZB

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