National | Animals

Whale watching could boost tourism in Whakatāne

Snapshots from a drone have captured the first Southern Right Whale recorded to travel off the coast of Whakatāne.

Local experts have also stated there’s an increasing number of baleen whales now sighted in the past month.

Photographer David Marshall captured the Southern Right Whale off the coast of Ohope Beach, providing more data for the tourism industry.

Diveworks Dolphin and Seal Encounters owner Phil van Dusscholet says, “There’s more Pilot, Dolphin, Seal, Orca, Humpback and now the Southern Right Whale seen on a regularly basis, due to the abundance of food such as krill.”

Since the October 3 a number of Bryde's Whales, Sei Whales, Fin Whales and Humpback Whales have been identified.

White Island Tours, managed by Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited, has also recorded other species of baleen whales in the Bay.

“This is very rare, we don’t usually see that many species of baleen whales in our bay in one month.

They usually follow the krill down to the South Island and onto Antarctica but I guess it may be the tides flowing differently which is creating this spectacle.”

Tourists travelling to the sunny Bay of Plenty town could tick whale watching off their bucket list.

The Department of Conservation states no one is to disturb, harass or make loud noises near marine mammals. They also urge the public to avoid sudden or repeated changes in speed or direction of any vessel or aircraft near the animals.

“This is uncommon in Whakatāne but as long as we uphold the regulations things will be run smoothly.”