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We’re calling on the public to report any sightings of southern right whales along the coastline of New Zealand. So if you see one, let us know!
A sighting near the beach at Te Angiangi, in the Hawkes Bay region has signalled the start of this year’s whale migration season and the beginning of the Department of Conservation’s southern right whale research programme.
This is a great opportunity for the public to see large whales on the coast, and also it’s a great chance to help out with our whale research.
The sightings help support the Otago University research programme that is looking into photo identification and habitat use of these animals.
This research is important as it helps us to track the recovery of the southern right whale population, and to better understand the relationship between the whales seen around the mainland and those from the New Zealand subantarctic region.
Data analysed so far by scientists at the University of Auckland, has shown that there have been three matches between the mainland and subantarctic whales. Choice!
The continuation of this research will enable the Department to take measures to ensure the whales have the right level of protection.
They are mostly black in colour and can be identified by their lack of a dorsal fin, a V-shaped blowhole spray, and white growths on their heads called callosities.
DOC needs to know the date, time and location of the sighting; the number of whales; whether there were any calves; and their direction of travel.
Any southern right whale sightings should be reported immediately on the DOC hotline: 0800 DOCHOT (0800 36 24 68) and recorded using a Marine mammal sighting form.
Many of you will have been saddened to hear about the kereru hunting incident at the hands of tourist hunters in the South Island, which was subsequently posted on YouTube.
Lots of understandably angry people have been calling and emailing DOC and the Minister about the incident and everyone should be assured that the authorities are following it up.
The Department of Conservation’s compliance team has launched a full investigation into the incident and we have identified the alleged offenders.
The hunters claim that they did not know kereru were protected, but I’m afraid ignorance is no defence under the Wildlife Act. The NZ Police have confirmed that the firearms used by the shooters were legally imported to New Zealand through the correct process and then taken by the hunters back to Norway.
DOC is currently putting together a detailed investigation report. Pending which a decision will be made on what course of action will be taken here in New Zealand.
The penalty for hunting or killing Absolutely Protected Species like kereru is a $100,000 fine and/or 1 year in prison. For a gamebird offence like hunting paradise shell duck the penalty is $5000 fine and $100 per head of game.
All information has been available to the Norwegian authorities who are also investigating the alleged offence, in line with their legislation.