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NZ whale songs get recording

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/06/2016

The songs of New Zealand's whales and dolphins are set to be recorded in a bid to learn more about the marine mammals' mysterious lifestyles.

NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa will on Friday start setting up a series of recording devices along the Cook Strait to record the animals for the next six months.

Although half of the world's whales and dolphins were found in New Zealand waters, very little was known about their migration and behaviour, Marine ecologist Kim Goetz, who is leading the project, said.

"It's exciting to be able to answer some of these really basic questions," Dr Goetz said.

"We'll be able to quantify how loud it is and where the noise is coming from, which has never been done here."

The moorings, which will be left at a variety of depths, will record the sounds made by baleen, beaked and other migratory whales along with any dolphin or porpoise sounds.

"It will be interesting to see if this Cook Strait region acts as some sort of dividing line. Is one population of whales going through the Strait and going up the west coast while others go up the east coast? We just don't know," Dr Goetz said.

"New Zealand has about 13 species of beaked whales and there is just nothing known about them."

The recording devices will be collected after half a year and their data downloaded.

Earlier in the week it was announced an annual Department of Conservation whale survey in the Cook Strait would not go ahead for the first time in 12 years.

DOC's research teams say they'll be reviewing the data they've collected over the years before deciding whether more sampling is required.

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