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Population of Blue whales discovered off New Zealand

Nearly 50 blue whales have been observed regularly feeding in the sea between the top of the South Island and lower Taranaki.
Blue whales, observed on an expedition in January and February, are thought to be foraging for food in the South Taranaki Bight.
NIWA, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research  |  Scientists spot rare blue whales off New Zealand coast    |   02-05-2014
Sightings of the whales, the world's largest animal, are rare and they remain one of the planet's most elusive creatures.
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Blue whales need to eat vast amounts of plankton to support their energy demands. But there are just four confirmed blue whale foraging grounds in the Southern Hemisphere
outside of Antarctic waters.

—Dr Leigh Torres, NIWA marine ecologist

NIWA marine ecologist Dr Leigh Torres is leading a team of blue whale researchers in the Bight on a journey that aims to collect critical data to enhance understanding of the blue whale population in the region.

Last year, Dr Torres published a scientific paper that discussed the possibility of a blue whale foraging ground in the South Taranaki Bight. Her research showed the presence of blue whales in the area was greater than expected. A recent increase in reported sightings was also linked to a prominent upwelling system that generates large clouds of plankton into the Bight - perfect for blue whales to feed on.

It was previously thought that the whales were only travelling through New Zealand waters while migrating.

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