Monday, July 4, 2011

The Right Way Home...

After being hunted nearly to extinction in the 19th century, endangered southern right whales are re-colonising the NZ mainland coast again.
Auckland University and Dept of Conservation (DOC) have conducted over a decade's research, showing small but growing numbers of right whales returning to our coast to give birth and raise their calves.
DNA samples showed the whales, rarely seen around mainland NZ in the 20th century, are moving from a 1,000-strong population in the sub-antarctic Auckland Islands (465km south of NZ).
The baleen-feeding whales can grow up to 20m/60ft long and weigh up to 100 tons. They're believed to live for 70 years or more. Playful and happy to swim close to shore, they are major tourist attractions where larger populations of them live in Argentina and South Africa.
With the increase in numbers around the Aucklands over the last decade, they think some individuals are re-discovering their former primary habitat around mainland NZ. Up to 30,000 southern right whales used to migrate here each winter to give birth and raise their calves in sandy, well-protected bays. Locations along Foveaux Strait from Fiordland around to northern Otago areas are important breeding habitats, especially Preservation Inlet, Te Waewae Bay and the Otago coast.
With it currently being winter calving season, members of the public are asked to report any sightings to DOC. People can also submit any photos of the whales but are warned not to get too close.
And whatever you do...DON'T tell the Japanese!

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