Whale-watchers reminded to give marine mammals wide berth
30 August 2018: World Animal Protection is reminding the public to give visiting whales space.
This follows footage of a southern right whale and calf in Wellington Harbour being closely followed by a recreational boat on Tuesday afternoon.
The return of the southern rights’ return has delighted the public – and this week they’ve been spotted in Bluff Harbour, off the beach at Foxton and Paekakariki, and in Wellington Harbour
Unfortunately, some members of the public were too enthusiastic about the whales, approaching and following the whales in manner that seemed to breach animal welfare guidelines.
Christine Rose, Campaign Advisor at World Animal Protection, said:
“Boat strikes and behavioural disturbance is the last thing these whales need as they navigate busy coastal waters with their calves, as they prepare for a long journey to Antarctic feeding grounds in coming months.
“We encourage people to celebrate whales from shore, where often the view is best, and there are no risks to whales”.
“When people are in boats and encounter whales, we urge boaties to respect the Department of Conservation whale watching rules.”
General rules set out by the Department of Conservation call for no more than three vessels and/or aircraft within 300 m of any marine mammal and to keep at least 200 m from any large whale mother and calf or calves.
“Getting too close to large whales also puts boaties at risk,” Ms rose added.
In October 2017, World Animal Protection released a Wildlife Selfie Code, aimed at educating travellers and animal lovers of the impact of cruel wildlife selfies. Since then, more than 2,200 Kiwis have pledged to only take wildlife selfies if;
• They are a safe and legal distance from the animal
• The wild animal is in its natural home
• The wild animal is free to move and not captive
And to avoid selfies where the wild animal;
• Can be held, hugged or restrained
• Is baited with food
• Is dangerous and could cause or be caused harm