Historically, southern right whales were widely distributed in New Zealand waters. This population, was driven to commercial extinction following extensive exploitation during the early 19th century (Dawbin 1986). It was further depleted by illegal Soviet hunting in 1950-1970 (Tormosov et al. 1998). While right whale sightings around mainland New Zealand remain rare, up to 165 whales can be found at the Auckland Is in a single day during winter. Despite what appears to be adequate habitat along the eastern coastline, the whales' distribution is largely limited to Port Ross, Laurie Harbour and waters around Enderby I. The relatively small area where so many whales congregate means that at peak season the density of whales at the Auckland Is is very high (approximately 8 whales/km2). The residency period extends from at least early May to at least the end of September, with peak numbers in July and August.
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Patenaude N (2019): Southern right whales wintering in the Auckland Islands, 1995-1998. v1.0. Southwestern Pacific Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Node. Dataset/Occurrence. https://nzobisipt.niwa.co.nz/resource?r=southernrightwhales_auck&v=1.0
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|Bounding Coordinates||South West [-50.611, 166.124], North East [-50.456, 166.385]|
Southern right whale
|Start Date / End Date||1995-08-01 / 1998-08-31|
In order to determine the minimum number of southern right whales visiting the Auckland Is each winter, combined non-systematic small boat and shore-based surveys of right whales were conducted within Port Ross and surrounding areas. The boat surveys were conducted along the centre-line of the harbour, and visibility (during most surveys) allowed scanning to the extent of both coastlines. Simultaneously, other observers conducted shore-based counts from several elevated vantage points on Enderby and Auckland Is.
|Study Extent||Port Ross, Laurie Harbour and waters around Enderby Island, Auckland Islands, New Zealand|
Method step description:
- During these surveys, a sighting was considered to include only one individual unless more than one individual could be counted at the surface within one and a half whale body lengths. Thus these censuses represent a minimum estimate of the number of whales observed on each occasion
- For all observations, an animal was judged to be a calf when the portion visible at the surface was less than half of the length of an accompanying adult. The accompanying adult was assumed to be the cow.
- Patenaude, NJ., 2000. Southern right whales wintering in the Auckland Islands. Conservation Advisory Science Notes No. 321, Department of Conservation, Wellington. https://www.doc.govt.nz/globalassets/documents/science-and-technical/casn321.pdf
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