WCA Partner Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari, based in Auckland, New Zealand have been having a bumper year for blue whale sightings on their whale watching tours.
The string of successful encounters began in August 2017 with one sighting followed by a further sighting in October of the same year. These two encounters were special in themselves as it had been 6 years since the previous sighting (2011) and so as far as the company had experienced blue whale sighting were relatively uncommon.
However, over the past few months the company has been seeing the blue whales on an almost daily basis with some trips seeing up to 12 individuals in one afternoon! Sightings have included a mother and calf, feeding behaviours as well as fluking (a sight not often seen in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park due to the shallow depth).
While the reasons behind this increase in sightings is still an unknown, by contributing photos and associated data Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari have been working with researchers at the Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University in their work on this population of pygmy blue whales. The data is helping learn more about this relatively newly discovered population of pygmy blue whales in New Zealand.