A critically endangered Bryde's whale has washed up dead on
Motuihe Island in the Hauraki Gulf.
Project Jonah chief executive Kimberly Muncaster said it was
too soon to tell how the whale had died, but conservation
staff were investigating whether it had been struck by a
"Unfortunately with this species, they are prone to being hit
by ships, particularly in the Hauraki Gulf. We have a
resident population that live in the Hauraki Gulf and there
have been a number of incidents over the last few years
involving ship strike."
The Department of Conservation (Doc) agreed that ship strike
poses the greatest threat to Bryde's whales in the Hauraki
Doc staff were securing the animal so a necropsy could be
carried out within the next couple of days.
Ms Muncaster said the death of the critically endangered
whale was "incredibly sad".
New Zealand is one of the few places in the world with a
resident population of the Bryde's whale. Fewer than 200
frequent the Hauraki Gulf, where their population is centred.
There have been 41 confirmed Bryde's whale deaths in the
Hauraki Gulf in the last 16 years. Of the 18 which were
examined, 15 were likely to have died from ship strike.
The latest death comes after a Bryde's whale, seen floating
in the gulf in February, was found to have been hit by a
Doc Auckland area biodiversity manager Phil Brown said at the
time that he was concerned by the number of Bryde's whales
He said a lower speed limit for commercial ships passing
through the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park could help to protect
University of Auckland researchers are currently looking into
why Bryde's whales are so vulnerable to ship strike.
Preliminary analysis has found the whales spend most of their
time less than 10 metres below the surface, which puts them
within the strike depth of many vessels.
- By Matthew Backhouse of APNZ