Passengers get whale of a time

Wildlife cruise passengers got more than their money's worth yesterday, when both the Monarch and Vivienne J came across a southern right whale in Dunedin Harbour.

The mammals are infrequently seen that close to the city, as they usually pass by the harbour on their way north.

However, Vivienne J skipper John McLachlan said he had seen the whale on his first cruise yesterday morning, and it appeared to have been in the outer harbour for most of the day.

Passengers on Monarch also had an encounter with the whale, shooting some close-up footage of it.

"It surfaced less than 20 metres ahead of us and then dived,'' Vivienne J skipper John McLachlan said.

"It gave us a bit of a shock. It was quite close ... originally we thought it might be a humpback, but then we changed it to a southern right whale.''

Mr McLachlan said the whales ventured into the harbour two or three times a year. Sightings out to sea were more common but still unusual.

"We don't advertise that you will see whales, but they did today, which was good.''


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