Whale takes a liking to central Auckland
A large whale has been spotted swimming just metres from shore in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.
The mammal had been identified as a southern right whale, Auckland Department of Conservation spokesman Nick Hirst said.
It has been lolling about in Mechanics Bay, and could be seen from Tamaki Drive on Tuesday.
"It's fantastic to see a southern right whale right in the heart of Auckland," he said.
Hirst was asking people not to jump in their boats to have a look at the whale.
"And so far no-one has. The public has been fantastic."
It was rare to see a southern right whale near Auckland, Hirst said.
DOC staff aboard the police launch Deodar were keeping an eye on the mammal.
Staff at the Coastguard Northern Region watched as the whale came within five metres of shore, near Ports of Auckland.
"It was an absolutely phenomenal sight," spokeswoman Georgie Smith said.
Up to 30,000 southern right whales used to migrate to New Zealand each winter to give birth and raise their calves in sandy, well-protected bays.
Slow moving, and with a liking for coastal waters, they were dubbed the "right" whales to hunt and almost brought to extinction.
Southern right whales:
- Southern right whales are black in colour but can have irregular white patches.
- They are slow swimmers but are very acrobatic and inquisitive.
- They may come very close to shore.
- Southern right whale populations suffered dramatic losses due to whaling, and is only now recovering.
- Present day threats include fishing, coastal development and human harassment.
Source: Department of Conservation