Frolicking Right Whale Charms Wellingtonians
A huge southern right whale frolicking in Wellington harbour brought the capital’s waterfront to a standstill last week as locals skipped work to catch a glimpse of the animal.
Southern right whales used to be a common sight in Wellington harbour, but 150 years of whaling from the 17th century brought them to the brink of extinction.
Known as tohorā in New Zealand, the whales were targeted because of their propensity to swim close to the shore, their huge quantities of flesh and approachability.
According to the Department of Conservation, the whales are now rare in New Zealand waters, with DOC urging the public to help with their conservation by reporting any sightings.
The whale that made his home in Wellington harbour – less than a kilometre as the crow flies from parliament house – quickly became a favourite with locals, who described it as “iconic”, “beautiful” and “majestic”.
Wellington’s council – which postponed a harbour fireworks display in case it disturbed the visitor – said Wellingtonians had fallen in love with the whale, and did not want it harmed in any way.
“This morning [Saturday] the whale was again seen breaching and frolicking in the harbour – and we’re getting lots of ‘save the whale’ sentiment from local people who’ve been captivated by its antics over the past few days,” media manager Richard MacLean said.
“We’ve had traffic coming to a standstill on the motorway and other harbourside roads … the whale is making everyone very happy and work in many offices has been disrupted by whale-watching,” MacLean said.
Original article by Eleanor Ainge Roy, The Guardian, July 6, 2018.
Photo by Karl Halvorsen.