An American couple from land-locked Utah had a great introduction to coastal Taranaki living yesterday as they sat in the sunshine and watched a mother whale frolic with her calf.
Mike and Holly Jones have been in New Plymouth for two weeks - the beginning of a two-year stay. Mrs Jones was at New Plymouth's Kawaroa Park with their children when people spotted the whales. She immediately text her husband, who rushed to the park.
"I got a text saying there is a whale - with three exclamation points," Mr Jones said laughing. "It was pretty exciting. Wow, we've never seen a whale."
The couple estimated more than 35 people had stopped for a bit of whale-watching during the hour they had been there.
A staff member at the Todd Energy Aquatic Centre said she had never seen whales so close to shore.
"If they were any closer they'd be beached whales. They were just cruising around checking things out."
Department of Conservation marine ranger Bryan Williams said the Southern right whales were first spotted off the end of Liardet St at about 8am. They were later spotted off Kawaroa in about seven metres of water.
The whales were heading to sub-Antarctic waters, Mr Williams said, and were having a bit of a rest. They would probably hug the coast all the way down the North Island.
Whales come down the Taranaki coast about this time every year, but sometimes it is too rough to see them. He had taken a biopsy of one of the whales and was hoping to take a sample from the other.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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