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17-metre blue whale to make appearance in Mission Bay

17-metre blue whale to make appearance in Mission Bay

Friday, February 16: A 17-metre blue whale called Janet is expected to make an appearance at a rally on Saturday in Mission Bay against new oil and gas exploration.

Greenpeace is taking the inflatable whale on a tour around the country to raise awareness about the impacts of oil and gas exploration on communities, the climate, and the marine environment.

Currently, the largest seismic surveying ship in the world, the Amazon Warrior, is sending seismic blasts into the seabed across thousands of kilometres of the Taranaki Coast in search of oil and gas.

The area is a blue whale habitat and the whale’s only known feeding ground in New Zealand.

Greenpeace climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says as well as causing distress for marine mammals in the area, the ship is in search of the fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

"The world can’t afford to burn the majority of the fossil fuel reserves already discovered if we want to avoid going over the two degree warming mark - the point at which science says we face extremely dangerous climate change," she says.

"Searching for new oil or gas is completely senseless, and we’re asking the Jacinda Ardern Government to put an immediate stop to it."

Simcock says weather events such as Cyclone Gita, which has just devastated Tonga and is now heading for New Zealand, will become more frequent and more extreme as climate change worsens.

"Over the past year in New Zealand, we’ve experienced large-scale flooding, fires, long periods of drought, and cyclones - including Cyclone Debbie - which swamped the Bay of Plenty community of Edgecumbe last April," she says.

"Jacinda Ardern has compared climate change to her generation’s nuclear free moment. We now need this new Government to back-up these bold words with immediate action.

"We know the Government is currently deciding whether or not to continue with the ‘Block Offer’ process put in place by its predecessors. This annual auction sees multi-decade licenses given out to companies to explore huge areas of our land and sea for oil and gas.

"Our message is that if this Government is really serious about climate change, they have to say no to new oil and gas exploration now."

Over the coming weeks Janet the Whale will stop off in other locations around New Zealand including New Plymouth and Christchurch.

As well as a rally and workshops, the tour will include family friendly activities such as face-painting.

Janet the Whale was last seen on Parliament Lawn in Wellington.

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