Population of blue whales discovered off New Zealand

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Population of blue whales discovered off New Zealand

February 05, 2014 - 17:49
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Nearly 50 blue whales have been observed regularly feeding in the sea between the top of the South Island and lower Taranaki.

Blue whales, observed on an expedition in January and February, are thought to be foraging for food in the South Taranaki Bight.

NIWA marine ecologist Dr Leigh Torres is leading a team of blue whale researchers in the Bight on a journey that aims to collect critical data to enhance understanding of the blue whale population in the region.

Last year, Dr Torres published a scientific paper that discussed the possibility of a blue whale foraging ground in the South Taranaki Bight. Her research showed the presence of blue whales in the area was greater than expected. A recent increase in reported sightings was also linked to a prominent upwelling system that generates large clouds of plankton into the Bight - perfect for blue whales to feed on.

It was previously thought that the whales were only travelling through New Zealand waters while migrating.

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