Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Charter boat passengers thrilled as baby humpback cruises near Tauranga Harbour

A baby humpback whale was spotted cruising near the entrance to Tauranga Harbour, yesterday.

It was spotted about 8.30am yesterday by those on board the Dolphin Seafaris cruise.

Crew member Sam Gilbert said at first those on board the boat thought it was a shark.

"Its tail popped out and holy crap it was a humpback," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Those on board the boat had the pleasure of seeing the marine mammal breach and swim near the boat for about half an hour.

The cruise went out to sea on its normal charter and was heading back about 11.30am when they spotted the whale again 3km to 4km out from Rabbit Is, towards Motiti Is.

"It breached a couple of times, completely jumped out of the water, it was incredible," she said.

"It came super close to the boat too, it would dive down, then popped right back up next to us and sprayed us with its blowhole."

The marine biologist has been on the job for three years, but this was the first time she had seen a humpback.

"Some of the crew had never seen any whales before, they were crying it was so special. The guests were so happy as well. It was a pretty special day yesterday."

The baby whale next to the boat. Photo/Sam Gilbert for Dolphin Seafaris
The baby whale next to the boat. Photo/Sam Gilbert for Dolphin Seafaris
The whale out from Tauranga Harbour. Photo/Sam Gilbert for Dolphin Seafaris NZ
The whale out from Tauranga Harbour. Photo/Sam Gilbert for Dolphin Seafaris NZ

Humpback whales

Common name: Humpback Whale
Scientific name: Megaptera novaeangliae
Type: Mammals
Diet: Omnivores
Group name: Pod
Size: 14 to 18m
Weight: 40 tonnes
Size: Relative to a bus

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