The Cook Strait Whale Survey has run each winter since 2004. Last year's bad weather made it difficult to see whales out at sea, but nonetheless 59 humpbacks were counted. Researchers are hoping for better weather in this year's 4wk.survey (ending 12 July).
Wellington marine ecologist Nadine Bott says whale recovery is assessed by comparing survey numbers to whalers' records of humpbacks in Cook Strait from the 1950s/early 1960s: "The findings indicate the NZ humpback population is increasing but only slowly."
Researchers also gather data and identification information on other whale species seen, which in the past has included blue, southern right, minke and sperm whales.
The public can help, by reporting sightings of whales in the Cook Strait area or along the northern Kaikoura coast, to DOC on 03/520-3002. Information is sought on the date, time and place of whale sightings, number of whales, and the direction the whale or whales were travelling.