Record whale season continues in Niue
Whale enthusiasts are celebrating a record breaking whale season in Niue with more humpback whales continuing to arrive in the waters around the island.
Whale enthusiasts are celebrating a record breaking whale season in Niue with more humpback whales continuing to arrive in the waters around the island nation.
Whale watching operator Magical Niue Sea Adventures have been working with local and international researchers to try and understand where the whales came from and where they are going.
This is done by photo identification and DNA analysis which is compared with other countries the whales visit in the region throughout the season.
The owner of Magical Sea Adventures, Rami Oved says research aside this year has been really good for business.
RAMI OVED: According to what everybody said, including the weather research organisation, it;s been the best so far. I think they had nineteen individual whales for about eight weeks non-stop.
KOROI HAWKINS: And who are the researchers there with you and what are they looking at?
RO: I think they're from Australia and they're here to do some ID, you know how you take pictures of the fluke, of the under of the fluke, to compare and see whether individuals from here travel to Cook Islands and then travel to Tonga or vice-versa. So it's an idea by photography and then they also take ID by collecting DNA from the skin that they leave behind. Every .time they breach the surface and go down again, they leave some pieces of skin on the surface. So that was being collected and sent to New Zealand for checking IDs and this is how they compare individuals and they follow the routes where they go, what they do, stuff like that.
KH: So the whales are there in numbers. Are the tourists there in numbers?
RO: Yeah I think there are more tourists this year than before. But this time, because there were so many whales around, everybody was interested primarily if not solely in the whale-watching tours because Niue is one of the two or three places in the world where you can actually swim with the whales, not just watch them.
KH: Yes, that must be very magical. And what is happening with the research? I also understand that they're thinking that some whales from other places have joined the ones that normally come to Niue, making for a larger group this year.
RO: Yeah, that's true. You have to talk to them, with all the results. So what I understood, there were twelve new individuals coming to Niue. And a few days ago we though that was it, you know, no more whales. And suddenly we saw a group of four and then another two coming in like one group. So they're coming back again. So yes, it has been a really good year. It's coming to an end but... Watching the whales from the boat is one experience but seeing them underwater is totally another experience. We've had people burst into tears, say it was a turning point in their lives. It is very inspiring seeing those whales underwater. It just changes your whole view of the whales altogether.
Rami Oved says Niue is one of only a handful of places in the whale where visitors can get in the water with the whales.
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