New World Whangaparaoa

The Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana / Te Moananui-ā-Toi is a special place for the Nationally Critical Bryde’s whale. It is one of only three places in the world where these whales live in coastal waters, with around 135 Bryde’s whales using the Marine Park.135 Bryde’s whales are most frequently seen in the area between Kawau Island, Waiheke and Aotea (Figure 65), where they spend around 90% of their time in surface waters resting and feeding on small schooling fish and zooplankton136. They need to eat a lot (600–650 kg per day) to maintain their body size,137 making them vulnerable to declines in prey availability due to fishing, environmental degradation or climate change.

In the past, a key threat to Bryde’s whales was ship strike. The Marine Park is one of the busiest waterways in Aotearoa, with the Ports of Auckland handling around 1,400 ship calls per year. Bryde’s whales are particularly vulnerable to being hit by fast-moving ships because they spend most of their time in surface waters. Between 1989 and 2014, 17 whales were likely to have been killed by ship strike, three whales died from entanglement with fishing or aquaculture gear, and 25 whales died from unknown causes.

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