Whale & Baby (Photo: Dwight Lorenzen)

A Southern Right Whale and her baby have been swimming around Wellington Harbour for a few days.

An image, captured by Dwight Lorenzen shows the mother whale swimming alongside her calf, in the water near Petone.

Many have speculated that the whale may be ‘Matariki,’ the whale who previously visited our Harbour for over a week. It has yet to be confirmed if this whale is indeed the same whale.

Department of Conservation (DOC) has put out a reminder to drone users to adhere to the laws:

“It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 (external site) to harass or disturb marine mammals.”

Rules about flying a drone near marine mammals
The Marine Mammal Protection Regulations 1991 (external site) stipulate a number of rules for the use of drones around marine mammals.

All drones users must:

– Take off at least 100 m from any marine mammal on the shore or the land
fly no closer than 150 m in any direction to any marine mammal (unless they have a permit from DOC)
– Not fly within 300 m of any marine mammal if there are already three drones, aircraft, or boats/vessels within 300 m of that marine mammal (there must be no more than three drones, aircrafts, or vessels within 300 m of a marine mammal at any one time – operators must coordinate their manoeuvres)
– Avoid imposing a shadow directly on any marine mammals
– Not make any sudden or repeated change in speed or direction, except in the case of an emergency
– Land at the first sight of any marine mammal being disturbed.

Getting closer
You must have a permit from DOC to fly a drone closer than 150 m (in any direction) to a marine mammal.

Your application will be publicly notified for 20 working days, unless the application is for research purposes.

Contact the Christchurch Permissions Team to discuss how to apply for a permit, the cost of applying for a permit, and if notification is required. See interacting with marine mammals for more information about the marine mammal permit application process.

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