Pod of rare whales filmed off Gisborne

SHEPHERD’S BEAKED WHALES: A large pod of rare Shepherd’s beaked whales off the coast of Gisborne has been filmed by Christchurch-based expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions. Picture supplied

Video footage of a large pod of rare Shepherd’s beaked whales off the coast of Gisborne has been taken by Christchurch-based expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions.

The video of 10 of the whales was taken by expedition leader Lisle Gywnn during an “amazing encounter” aboard expedition vessel Spirit of Enderby, as the ship was making its way to Tauranga to start a 31-day Western Pacific Odyssey voyage.

The Shepherd’s beaked whale, Tasmacetus shepherdii, is one of the least-known whale species on the planet, says Heritage Expeditions’ general manager David Bowen.

With only a handful of confirmed sightings recorded, most of what is known about these mammals has been obtained from autopsies on the carcasses of beached/stranded whales — with New Zealand considered the world stranding hotspot for the species.

Mr Bowen hopes the video will provide insights for those studying the “fascinating” whales.

“We are proud to be able to share this footage with the scientific community and marine-minded individuals,” he said.

Gisborne Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk said there had been two confirmed sightings of the Shepherd’s beaked whales in this district.

In 2009 a female Shepherd’s beaked whale beach-cast at Mahia Peninsula, and a skull was found at Mohaka in 2015.

Video footage of a large pod of rare Shepherd’s beaked whales off the coast of Gisborne has been taken by Christchurch-based expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions.

The video of 10 of the whales was taken by expedition leader Lisle Gywnn during an “amazing encounter” aboard expedition vessel Spirit of Enderby, as the ship was making its way to Tauranga to start a 31-day Western Pacific Odyssey voyage.

The Shepherd’s beaked whale, Tasmacetus shepherdii, is one of the least-known whale species on the planet, says Heritage Expeditions’ general manager David Bowen.

With only a handful of confirmed sightings recorded, most of what is known about these mammals has been obtained from autopsies on the carcasses of beached/stranded whales — with New Zealand considered the world stranding hotspot for the species.

Mr Bowen hopes the video will provide insights for those studying the “fascinating” whales.

“We are proud to be able to share this footage with the scientific community and marine-minded individuals,” he said.

Gisborne Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk said there had been two confirmed sightings of the Shepherd’s beaked whales in this district.

In 2009 a female Shepherd’s beaked whale beach-cast at Mahia Peninsula, and a skull was found at Mohaka in 2015.

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