26 Jul 2010

Scientists seek secrets of whale habitat

11:31 am on 26 July 2010

Scientists hope the rare Southern Right whale could once again flourish around coastal New Zealand, with the help of information gathered in a three-year study.

A team of scientists and staff from Otago and Massey universities, the Department of Conservation, and Otago Museum begins the study this week, at the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands.

Expedition leader Will Rayment says commercial whaling hunted the now-protected Southern Right whale to virtual extinction, but about 1000 of the mammals are thought to inhabit waters around the Auckland Islands.

The team is in the islands for about three weeks, during which time, Dr Rayment says, acoustic recordings will be taken for the first time of the sounds made by whales as researchers try to find out what makes the habitat so favourable.