Southern right whale visits Otago Harbour

Department of Conservation —  01/09/2014

By DOC’s Andrea Crawford, Dunedin

A southern right whale/tohora and her calf were spotted cruising around Otago Harbour last week—coming close to the shore, showing off their acrobatic skills, and giving onlookers a dramatic display of their flukes and blowholes.

Southern right whale in Otago Harbour. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

Southern right whale blowhole

These beautiful, inquisitive, gigantic mammals (adults are up to 18 metres long) are often seen along Otago’s coast during winter.

DOC Coastal Otago ranger Jim Fyfe tells me that their visits to Otago Harbour are increasing.

The fluke of the whale partially above water. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

Fluke of the whale

These whales were once almost hunted to extinction, as they were deemed the “right” whales to catch—they were easy to approach, lived close to shore, and provided huge amounts of meat, oil and whalebone.

Southern right whales are showing signs of recovery, but we’re keeping a close eye on their movements around New Zealand to monitor their numbers.

Callosities on the head of the southern right whale. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

Calcified skin patches known as callosities

If you see a southern right whale please call the DOC hotline immediately: 0800 DOCHOT (0800 36 24 68).

These fantastic photographs were taken and supplied by Stephen Jaquiery.