Humpback research to start in Cook Strait

By Te Kāea
  • Wellington
  • South Island

The Cook Strait will become the base of a survey on the humpback whale population starting next month.  The 12th annual whale survey will run from Saturday 13 June to Saturday 11 July and it is hoped that the data collected will enable conclusive findings on the recovery rate of the humpback whale population.

Humpback whales pass through New Zealand waters on their migration route from Antarctic waters to the South Pacific where they breed.  Last year 92 whales were counted, the highest number recorded since 2012.

A whale spotting team will be based on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds and is lead by six former whalers who will approach whales by boat and take skin samples for identification purposes.

In a press statement today, project marine biologist Nadine Bott said the findings so far indicate the whale population is recovering at a slow rate, “We are starting to see a few re-sightings of some whales travelling through Cook Strait and with the slow increase we expect to see more every year. We are excited to see what or who turns up this year.”    

“Through the increased information it gathers about humpback whales it assists efforts to protect the whales in the South Pacific and Southern Ocean,” said Ms Bott.