Beaked whales off Northland New Zealand

May 16, 2008 — May 17, 2008

During May of 2008 I spent just on a month working with a film company, attempting to film killer whales around northern New Zealand. This report covers two days of this trip during which we recorded at least seven species of cetacean including two species of beaked whale.
 Filming off Northland New Zealand

This day displayed a variety of weather conditions with winds abating as the day progressed and sea states also varying between Beaufort 1 and 3. Six cetacean sightings were recorded on this day, involving a remarkable seven species. The survey vessel surveyed an area between Middlesex Bank and The Frenchman's Cap.

Start survey 0710

Sighting 1

1030

34 05 210 S 171 49 718 E

Species Unidentified rorqual, likely to have been either Sei or Omura’s whale.

2 individuals traveling north.

Sighting 2

1210

33 54 918 S 171 43 580 E

Species – Unidentified beaked whale, possibly strap-toothed beaked whale, (Mesaplodon layardii).

4 individuals were sighted traveling south west.

Sighting 3

1342

33 48 018 S 171 32 480 E

Species - Killer whale, (Orcinus orca)

 1 Adult male

 4 Females and older juveniles

 1 Calf 

This pod of killer whales were affiliating with a pod of 3 Shepherd's beaked whales.

 Shepherd’s beaked whale, (Tasmacetus shepherdi)

 2 Adults

 1 Sub-adult or older calf

Sighting 4

1520

33 47 211 S 171 27 908 E

Species – False killer whale, (Pseudorca crassidens)  and offshore bottlenose dolphin, (Tursiops truncatus).

Approximately 40 false killer whales and 60 offshore bottlenose dolphins made up this affiliation pod.

Sighting 5

1600

33 47 921 S 171 24 638 E

Species – Killer whale, (Orcinus orca)

1 Adult male

4 Females and older juveniles

1 Calf

Note;

This pod contained an individual known “V Notch” who was recorded during a similar survey in 2007.

Sighting 6

1740

33 46 793 S 171 20 008 E

Species – Sperm whale, (Physter macrocephalus)

 

 

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 Filming off Northland, New Zealand
May 17

Good survey conditions were experienced on this day, with winds ranging between 5 and 10 knots from the north east. Sea states remained stable between Beaufort 2 and 3. Four cetacean sightings were recorded on this day, involving three species.

Start survey 0710

Sighting 1

1005

33 46 701 S 171 27 193 E

Species – False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)  and offshore bottlenose dolphin, (Tursiops truncatus).

Approximately 40 false killer whales and 60 offshore bottlenose dolphins made up this affiliation pod.

It is possible that this pod may be the same pod as was encountered the previous day. The pod was observed on several occasions stopping to dive and feed. The species of fish they were feeding on remains unidentified, however at one stage, one false killer whale appeared to be feeding a type of cod or possible bass.

Sighting 2

1125

33 47 319 171 29 700

Species – Sperm whale, (Physter macrocephalus)

Logging

 

Sighting 3

1620

33 55 954 S 171 46 710 E

Species – Shepherd’s beaked whale, (Tasmacetus sheperdi).

3 Adult individuals.

Regular surfacing and moving within a relatively small area and appeared to be circling.

Sighting 4

1655

33 58 971 S 171 50 100 E

Species - Sperm whale, (Physter macrocephalus)

1 animal

End survey 1730

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Written by

David Donnelly

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