Whale spotted off Wellington

Last updated 10:41 01/09/2014
ALAN MCKENZIE

A Southern Right whale hunts on the south coast of Wellington.

Whale off south coast
Rachel Innes Zoom
WHALE OF A TIME: A distant sighting of the whale off Princess Bay this morning.

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A whale has been spotted near Island Bay.

Island Bay Marine Education Centre discovery programme manager Julian Hodge said the whale had been at the surface for about 15 minutes before diving under water again, about 10am. 

It had just returned to the surface and was doing tail flips.

It was about 80 metres off the coast, near Princess Bay.

Wellington estate agent Scott Brenton, whose home overlooks the Wellington South Coast, spotted the whale this morning so paddled out on his surfboard to see it.

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He got within 30-40m of it as it entered Lyall Bay, and spent about an hour near it as it "just cruised along".

"It had a whole lot of barnacles on it."

On one surfacing, the whale gently nudged a dive boat.

Brenton believed it was a southern right whale, a type of whale he had previously seen in the area.

Laura Boren, from Department of Conservation, said the southern right whale breed was now endangered in New Zealand.

They had been common before the peak of commercial whaling, so much so, the sound of their blows would keep Wellingtonians awake, she said.

The demise of the breed was largely because of their slow movements and tendency to stay near the surface, which made them easy to catch.

They were seen as the ''right'' whales to hunt because of this - giving them their names.

Despite their endangered status, they were not uncommon in Wellington, where they usually arrived by themselves or with a calf.

It is believed the whale near Island Bay was alone.

Southern right whales tended to make an onshore to offshore migration and when onshore - such as today - could stick around for anything from a day to a month.

Adults grew up to 18m long, she said.

> Have you seen the whale? Send your photos to news@dompost.co.nz

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