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VIDEO: Thar she blows

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Allan Birt was nursing a broken arm after falling off the roof. But when presented with the opportunity to get up close and personal with an eight-metre southern right whale off Mount Maunganui Beach yesterday afternoon, he forgot all about his injury.

The Rotorua man, holidaying at his bach on Marine Parade, was on his kayak within moments of the sighting.

Click the image above to watch the video

Phill Dromgool captured this shot yesterday afternoon, while Darryl McConnell captured this stunning video footage via a GoPro. Photo: Phill Dromgool, Video: Darryl McConnell.

“The whale was watching me – I was that close,” says Allan. “It was staring straight at me.”

The whale frolicked a couple of hundred metres off the beach near Rabbit Island for two hours this – broaching and thrashing the water with its long pectoral fins.

Dozens of locals gathered on the sand dune for the spectacular display of nature and the whale could even be heard roaring from the beach.

Reports initially suggested the whale was stranded, but Allan immediately played this down.

“Nah” says Allan. “It was just rolling around, cruising in the sun and wasn’t stressed for a moment.”

He has seen the whales before at Kaikoura, but only from a distance. ”But I was right over the top of this one,” he adds. “It was quite cool.”

The Department of Conservation confirmed the whale is the same southern right that has been tracking north from Opotiki since last week.

There are only 250 documented southern rights, and this one is believed to be on its historical migration route.

“It was a novelty but not an exception to see one so close to the beach” says DOC’s John Heaphy.

And although several kayakers and paddle boarders raced to the scene, John says everyone was well behaved, kept their distance and didn’t seem to bother the whale.

The whale disappeared into deep water at about 2.30pm but continued to resurface as the hours ticked by.

Meanwhile, DOC partnership manager for Tauranga, Margaret Metcalfe, has suggested the whale could even be around for another day or so.

“We left it overnight and expected it to find its way out to deeper waters on the high tide, which was about midnight,” says Margaret.

“It’s just travelling up the coast. We have been tracking it for a few days, and we first noticed it around Opotiki. It could float around here for another couple of days.

“It’s not unusual for them to come into the shallower waters. We don’t often see it here but there’s nothing unusual in the behaviour.”

Comments on SunLive

Stay away......

Posted on 25-07-2015 08:58 | By Smilarkie

..... can’t believe people are so selfish. Stay on the beach to watch them. DOC says they are trying to rest and save energy, and it is a criminal offence to get withen 100m of them. No wonder they don’t come here much. Too many nosy heros. Come on DOC, you have their names, now fine them!!!!! The rules are the rules. These are endangered animals.
Great to see!

Posted on 24-07-2015 21:13 | By Wingnut

We were on the beach watching the whale. It seemed to be having a great time splashing it’s fins and tail. I’ve never seen such a huge creature so close. Unforgettable.
Video man

Posted on 24-07-2015 05:37 | By Me again

Where is the man Pettigrew? We would have had super footage of this animal.
Too Close

Posted on 23-07-2015 15:43 | By cuswell

Just too close! Give them space and respect.
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