Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Blue whales are feeding off New Zealand, not just migrating

Blue whales believed to be foraging in South Taranaki Bight

May 2013. A recent study indicates that Blue whales in a coastal area of New Zealand, known as the South Taranaki Bight, might be doing more than just passing through on their way to and from summer feeding grounds in Antarctica.

Extensive study
A new study, carried out by the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), examined opportunistic sightings of Blue whales collected between 1979 and 1999, historical whaling data, stranding events, foraging observations, and sightings recorded during two seismic surveys conducted in 2011.

High density of Blue whales
The findings show that the presence of Blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight is greater than expected and historical whaling data demonstrate a high density of Blue whales in the region throughout time. The study links this increased presence of Blue whales in the Bight to the prominent upwelling system near the South Island's Farewell Spit that generates large clouds of plankton - perfect Blue whale food - in the South Taranaki Bight.

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