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Rare whales detected in Cook Strait

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/03/2017
Underwater eavesdropping in Cook Strait © Radio New Zealand Underwater eavesdropping in Cook Strait

A handful of rare whale species have been detected by scientists in the Cook Strait.

Noises from Antarctic blue whales, Antarctic minke whales and several different beaked whale species, which are rarely seen due to their extensive diving behaviour, have been picked up by NIWA listening devices in the strait.

The seven acoustic mooring locations were set up, initially to record man-made noise from vessels and industry, weather events as well as whales and dolphins.

But the devices have picked up what are likely to be the first recordings of Gray's and strap-toothed beaked whales in New Zealand water.

Marine ecologist Kim Goetz is most excited about hearing the little-known- beaked whale.

""There is just nothing known about these animals - they are every elusive, deep diving animals which can spend over an hour on a single dive and surface for a very short time so they are not often documented."

Antartic minke and Antartic blue whales were also heard, indicating they aren't as far away in Antartica as originally thought.

NIWA scientist have six months worth of data to comb through and have taken on extra staff for it.

The acoustic moorings have been put out again, with more data to be collected in August.

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