Sightseers get whale of a time in city

Last updated 08:38 09/11/2012
whale stand
Humphrey the humpback whale plays off the New Plymouth coast yesterday.

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An unlikely meeting of a humpback whale and a pod of orcas took place in full view of boaties and walkers near New Plymouth's coastline yesterday.

The "unusual" visitors timed their appearances on the New Plymouth coastline well with sightings of the humpback from the city to Fitzroy at the same time that the orcas were somersaulting close to the Waiwhakaiho River mouth.

New Plymouth's Lawrence Cooke was out for a walk near Fitzroy when he caught sight of the humpback.

"We were off the end of Sackville St up high so we got a really good view of it," he said.

"You see orcas when you're out surfing a lot and I've seen others out fishing but I've never seen a whale like that so close to shore."

Conservation Department officer Bryan Williams said it's likely the humpback was en route to Antarctica, a common migration any time from October onwards.

"They don't always pass by so close that we can see them so a sighting like this is really good," he said.

As for the orcas, it's unknown whether they were heading north or south but either way they would have been on the hunt for stingray.

Mr Williams says orcas are seen quite close to land in shallow waters where they regularly feed.

"It's quite unusual to see both of them so close and at the same time but awesome for the public to see," he said.

Typical whale callings would have been in full force making it inevitable each party would have known the other was nearby.

"They probably both knew the other was there but would have been going their separate ways," Mr Williams said.

"The orcas certainly wouldn't be annoying the humpback."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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