Rare whale in Auckland harbour

(Department of Conservation)
(Department of Conservation)

A rare whale species has spent the morning basking close to shore in an Auckland harbour.

Department of Conservation marine scientist Clinton Duffy says the Southern right whale, which is about 12 metres long, was not stuck or distressed.

Southern right whales were commonly hunted in the 1800’s and were right on the brink of extinction but are now slowly recovering, said Mr Duffy.

“It is common for a Southern right whale to come in close to shore. They breed in shallow bays and seek out these sorts of environments.”

He said this type of whale is slow moving and yields a lot of oil.

“That’s how it gets his name; because it was seen as the right whale to hunt,” he said.

The whales can reach up to 15 metres in length.

Mr Duffy said its estimated there are only around 1000 left in the sub Antarctic and less than approximately 20 are seen around the mainland each year.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to see it,” he said.

DoC spokesman Nick Hirst believes the whale is the same one which was spotted sitting near Mount Maunganui about two-and-a-half weeks ago.

“They’re individually identifiable by the callosities on their heads.

“The interesting thing will be to also see if it’s the one who appeared here about three years ago,” he said.

Mr Duffy said the whales spend a lot of time underwater so boat users should be aware of the risk of not being able to see it nearby.

A police launch boat would remain in the area to keep an eye on the rare whale.

3 News