Former whalers team up with DOC
Wed, 13 Jun 2012 6:23p.m.
By Adrien Taylor
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and former whalers are carrying out a census of humpback whales passing through Cook Strait on their annual migration.
The majestic humpback whale makes its way from the cold Antarctic to breed in the warmer waters of the Pacific and for this year’s census former whalers are on board with DOC to help find the whales.
They used to use their superior spotting skills to hunt and kill them, but now they are helping their recovery.
But the journey is not without a casualty - the death of a young female in the Tory Channel has added a sombre note to this year’s survey.
“It’s a female and that’s quite sad as well because she was a future breeding stock and that we’ve lost her to whatever cause of death is a real shame,” says Nadine Bott of DOC.
The dead whale was freed from the rocks and towed to Okukari Bay where she was laid to rest in a giant grave dug by James Herberley – whose father and grandfathers hunted humpbacks in the Cook Strait for over 130 years.
It was a sad but necessary step.
“Most of our whales we like to see alive and kicking. This one wasn’t so we had no choice about that so it was a matter of getting it disposed of properly,” says project co-leader John Gibbs.
The search for the travelling humpbacks continues for another four weeks, before they are back again next year.
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