Jump to content

White Whale Found

Recommended Posts

I've always known that the Wellington area is an amazing place to sail. It's cold and windy and it can be bloody horrible. But every now and again one has an amazing experience.


First time I ever crossed Cook Strait in my own boat it was an awful night. I'd only owned her about 6 weeks and the trip was after a bad southerly storm (old salts recommend this the best time to cross). No wind at all, just this horrible blobby chop. We motored out of Wellington harbour about 1am (tides are important in Cook Strait) in a fleet of 15 or so yachts. It was an organised cruise of the Lowry Bay YC. Through the dark night the little YSE8 Yanmar went bang bang bang. No problems starting the voyage. We were excited and fresh, but out through the heads we all confronted such horribly confused seas. The boat slopped from side to side in nasty directionless waves. And the diesel exhaust fumes seemed often to remain with us. The inky water of the rip at Sinclair was especially unpleasant and clearly, we weren't there at slack water. But onward we continued (at walking speed).


At 5:30 the sun entered the sky behind much cloud. It was a grey and somewhat dispiriting daybreak. We were cold and tired and hungry, and making miles ever so slowly.  With the Brothers Islands only a couple of miles ahead we saw a black shape in the distance. Coming slowly towards us we thought dolphins, but only 100 metres from the boat we recognised two black whales as they surfaced. It was awe inspiring. Continuing towards us they slid past us only metres away and we were able to recognise them as humpbacks. Just so huge, well over twice the length of our sail boat. Once past, one of them fluked. You just can't appreciate the awesome size of these living creatures, and particularly their tails until you meet them in real life. Just so incredible, and makes one feel so humble.


But the point of this little post is that every year in June/July a group of avid whale watchers, organised by DOC, try to identify and count the whales passing through the Strait. This has been going on for 12 years, and even with a reduced number of watching days due to severe weather, June 2015 has seen a record number of 137 humpbacks. 


And a very rare and special whale was sighted early this week. A white humpback. DOC managed to get a tissue sample (sometimes I sort of wish they'd just leave the poor animals alone but anyway) to determine if the colour is because it is an albino or just coloured white. With some irony DOC reported it was spotted by former whaler Ted Perano.


From the photo we can see that the whales are travelling north or north-west, not too far off Cape Terawhiti, now covered in power generating windmills. (Unless the photo is a reverse image which I suspect it may be.)


White Wahle 4 July 2015.jpg

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

very interesting


presumably the famous migaloo (some australians think not)


who has been spent 25? years swimming between the ice and queensland


i don't think anyone thought that trip was going through cook straight




is magloo going to oz again


or perhaps going via norfolk to visit the new in-laws in new calidonian?


before heading back over the hervay bay?


or will stay out east?


there were some reports he was distressed by australian paparazzi



Link to post
Share on other sites

I realise that this 'news' is a tad old, but just to complete the post about this season's whale counting.


Newborn whale calf spotted in Cook Strait


A tiny newborn humpback whale calf has been spotted during the annual Department of Conservation whale survey in the Cook Strait.

It is the second time a calf had been seen in New Zealand waters following the only other sighting in July 2010.






  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

a white humpback is back in winter waters off the east coast of oz


but telling which one is it getting to be a little complicated now there seem to be at least 4! 






however if that southern right continues to migrate through the hobson / okahu bay moorings that's where my eyes will need to be 


the pine harbor fast ferries will need to know where it is at all times


maybe a daily location update on channel 22 when its in the inner harbor?



Link to post
Share on other sites

the media say the whale above and below


are not the same whale


but there seems quite a bit of mis-identification going on as 


yesterday today's "antarctic minke" was assumed to be a hauraki gulf bryders whale 


and some stories in the herald say it's dead


but instead it's apparently back out


wonder if they can tie up all these stories with some kind of summary


or once they put a duff story out on the web 


it lingers there in caches confusing everyone for ever




Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...