Occurrence

Pygmy blue whales seen on a 2018 survey, New Zealand

Latest version published by The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) on 24 June 2024 The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)

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Description

Between 28 January and 10 February 2018, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and collaborators conducted a voyage to attach satellite tracking devices to pygmy blue whales in the Taranaki region of New Zealand. The aim of this voyage was to examine the movement and habitat utilization of pygmy blue whales in New Zealand waters. This paper provides a summary of preliminary data collected during this research voyage. In total, we spent 72.51 hours (1637.54 km) actively searching for blue whales over eight survey days. Eleven blue whale sighting events were made (16 animals). Two blue whales were sighted twice, meaning that a total of 14 unique individuals were encountered. Other sightings included Bryde’s (possibly sei) whales, common dolphins, Hector’s dolphins, and fur seals. Two satellite tags were successfully deployed and six skin/blubber samples were collected from four blue whales. Photo-identification data were collected for eleven individual blue whales. Overall, blue whales were found further south, in lower numbers, and were not observed surface feeding, likely due to the La Niña anomalous oceanographic conditions. This resulted in warmer temperatures (4 - 6 °C higher than average climatology), reduced west wind flows, and consequent reduction in upwelling, significantly impacting the high productivity characteristic of the Taranaki region. All photo-identification data will be provided to a collaborative Southern Hemisphere Blue Whale Catalogue, supported by IWC and collaborations have been established with other researchers to share and compare data.

Data Records

The data in this occurrence resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 36 records.

This IPT archives the data and thus serves as the data repository. The data and resource metadata are available for download in the downloads section. The versions table lists other versions of the resource that have been made publicly available and allows tracking changes made to the resource over time.

Versions

The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.

How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Goetz K, Childerhouse S, Paton D, Ogle M, Hupman K, Constantine R, Double M, Andrews-Goff V, Zerbini A, Olson P (2024). Pygmy blue whales seen on a 2018 survey, New Zealand. Version 1.0. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). Occurrence dataset. https://nzobisipt.niwa.co.nz/resource?r=pygmy_bluewhale_2018_nz&v=1.0

Rights

Researchers should respect the following rights statement:

The publisher and rights holder of this work is The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 4.0) License.

GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: 37688194-45ab-40cd-b3ea-a307e41d30dd.  The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by GBIF New Zealand.

Keywords

Occurrence; Observation

Contacts

Kimberly Goetz
  • Metadata Provider
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
Researcher
National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research
Private Bag 14901, Kilbirnie
6241 Wellington
Wellington
NZ
Simon Childerhouse
  • Originator
Researcher
Blue Planet Marine New Zealand
PO Box 3639
7050 Richmond
Tasman
NZ
David Paton
  • Originator
Researcher
Blue Planet Marine New Zealand
PO Box 3639
7050 Richmond
Tasman
NZ
Mike Ogle
  • Originator
Researcher
Department of Conservation
62 Commercial Street
7110 Takaka
Tasman
NZ
Krista Hupman
  • Originator
Researcher
National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research
Private Bag 14-901, Kilbirnie
6241 Wellington
Wellington
NZ
Rochelle Constantine
  • Originator
Researcher
University of Auckland, School of Biological Sciences
Private Bag 92019
Auckland
Auckland
NZ
Mike Double
  • Originator
Researcher
Australian Marine Mammal Centre, Australian Antarctic Division
Hobart
Tasmania
AU
Virginia Andrews-Goff
  • Originator
Researcher
Australian Marine Mammal Centre, Australian Antarctic Division
Hobart
Tasman
AU
Alex Zerbini
  • Originator
Researcher
Cascadia Research
18 1/2 W 4th Ave.
98501 Olympia
WA
US
Paula Olson
  • Originator
Researcher
Southwest Fisheries Science Center NMFS/NOAA
8901 La Jolla Shores Drive
92037 La Jolla
CA
US

Geographic Coverage

northern West Coast, South Island and South Taranaki Bight, New Zealand

Bounding Coordinates South West [-42.5, 170.5], North East [-39.5, 173.5]

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 2018-01-28 / 2018-02-10

Sampling Methods

Visual surveys for blue whales were conducted from the M/V Star Keys operated by Western Workboats. A smaller six-meter vessel ‘Brig’ outfitted with a specialized bowsprit was housed on-board for tagging and biopsy operations. Due to the limited time available, survey effort was initially focused in the Taranaki region due to a previously described high density of blue whale sightings in the area (Torres 2013; Torres et al. 2017). The research team consisted of Kimberly Goetz (NIWA, voyage leader), Simon Childerhouse (Blue Planet Marine, tagger), Dave Paton (Blue Planet Marine, small boat driver), Mike Ogle (Department of Conservation, biopsy collector), and Krista Hupman (NIWA, photo-identification).

Study Extent Northern coast of West Coast, South Island and South Taranaki Bight

Method step description:

  1. All visual surveys were conducted on an outdoor platform located above the wheelhouse, approximately 7 m above the water. During each survey, the research team rotated between three positions (left observer, recorder, right observer) and alternated between searching with and without 7x 50 binoculars. Each observer spent an hour at each position (three hours on-effort) followed by two hours off-effort to minimize fatigue. A custom-built survey program was used to record all survey information which consisted of sighting (position, date, number of individuals, behavior) and weather data (Beaufort, swell, sun position, glare, horizon visibility). Additional aerial surveys were undertaken to provide wider search effort for the survey.
  2. Upon sighting a suspected blue whale, the vessel was guided towards the whale for species confirmation. If conditions were suitable, the Brig was launched and the main vessel acted as a safety and support vessel. The boat driver approached the animal to within 5-10 m while the tagger attached a satellite tag (SPOT-303F with a 45-sec repetition rate, Wildlife Computers) using a compressed air powered deployment (ARTS system) and collected a biopsy sample using Paxarm biopsy system. A biopsy was only attempted after tag attachment or when conditions were not suitable for tagging.
  3. Because there is often only one chance to get within 10 m of a blue whale, the tasks were prioritized as follows: 1) tag deployment, 2) biopsy sample, 3) photo-identification.
  4. When collected, biopsy samples were split and either frozen or stored in 70% ethanol for the following analyses: 1) genetic composition (ethanol), 2) stable isotope analysis (frozen), 3) hormone analysis (frozen). If the size of the biopsy sample allowed, a small portion was stored in ethanol to be housed in the tissue archive maintained by the University of Auckland. Before, during, and after tagging and biopsy operations, attempts were made to take photos for photo-identification using high resolution digital SLR cameras. However, given the priority of operations and time constraints, obtaining photographs of both right and left sides of individual animals was not possible. All data were archived at the end of each day for later quality control and reconciliation.

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Satellite tracking of blue whales in New Zealand waters, 2018 voyage report. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337006236_Satellite_tracking_of_blue_whales_in_New_Zealand_waters_2018_voyage_report
  2. Goetz, K.T., Childerhouse, S., Paton, D., Ogle, M., Hupman, K., Constantine, R., Double, M.C., Andrews-Goff, V., Zerbini, A.N. and Olson, P.A., 2018. Satellite tracking of blue whales in New Zealand waters, 2018 voyage report. Bled, Slovenia.

Additional Metadata

marine, harvested by iOBIS