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Studies show New Zealand’s population of southern right whales is growing

A recent study published in Polar Biology has found that New Zealand’s population of southern right whales is growing, despite escalating human stressors.

With changes in habitat availability and prey abundance, southern right whales in other parts of the world have shown shifts in habitat use, behaviour and the timings of biological events. To determine whether this applied to New Zealand’s southern right whales, scientists surveyed the Port Ross region in 2020 and 2021, comparing the results to data from 2008. Unexpectedly, there has been little change over the past three decades. Furthermore, the proportion of groups containing cow-calf pairs has increased by approximately 30% since 2008, indicating population growth.

It is fantastic news that our southern right whales appear to be doing so well! With continued monitoring and management in Port Ross, we hope this growing population will eventually recover and recolonise New Zealand’s coastal regions.