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The size of the bight depends to a large extent on the source referring to it. Strict definitions refer to it stretching from the mouth of the Kaupokonui Stream south of Mount Taranaki to the mouth of the Patea River. More loose descriptions consider the entire lower North Island west coast as far as Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast to be part of the bight.
The bight once used to be a calving ground for large numbers of southern right whales in winter and spring, however their numbers were extensively reduced by whalings and only a handful of cows visit regularly today, and the old name for the bight, Mothering Bay was named after the presences of large numbers of cow-calf pairs. Being discovered in 2007 and was confirmed in 2014, this body of water has been regarded as the only known feeding and forging ground for pygmy blue whales in New Zealand, holding a unique population of its own. Point off Kahurangi Point in nearby is also an area where blue whales frequent.
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