29 Aug 2018

Wellington whale and calf 'unlikely' to stick around

11:18 am on 29 August 2018

Wellington has been treated to Southern Right Whale and its calf in the harbour - but a marine mammal charity says the pair aren't likely to stick around.

The Southern Right Whale in Wellington Harbour

A southern right whale spotted in Wellington harbour earlier this month. Photo: Maritime NZ/Mark Dittmer

Last month, another Southern Right Whale, affectionately named Matariki, spent several days in the harbour and caused the postponement of the Wellington fireworks show.

There has been some speculation on social media that this could be the same whale.

However, whale expert Nadine Bott confirmed that the white growths on the top of this whale's head are different to the previous visitor.

Project Jonah New Zealand general manager Daren Grover says the mother and calf are unlikely to stay that long.

"Southern right whales have been seen in the past off the coast of New Zealand, usually they're seen slowly moving along the coast and it's quite rare for them to spend more than a day or so in one single spot."

"The behaviour we saw from Matariki in Wellington harbour a couple of months ago was quite unusual," Mr Grover said.

About 2500 southern right whales are thought to inhabit New Zealand waters.

Ms Bott said historically, it wasn't unusual for whales to bring their calves into the harbour but it has become less common in modern times.

However, there appears to be an increasing number of whales coming into the harbour, she said.

The whales tend to spend the summer months further offshore feeding before coming in to the inshore waters where they fast and have their young, Ms Bott said.

People need to stay at least 200m away and drones must stay 150m away so the mother doesn't get upset and to protect the calf.

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