“The Nature Photography Society of New Zealand is saddened by the tragic loss at sea in Kaikoura on a society member voyage which claimed the lives of 5 of our members,” the Nature Photography Society of New Zealand wrote on Facebook.
“We do not yet know what caused the vessel to capsize and it is something that will be addressed by Maritime NZ in due course.
“In the meantime, our hearts go out to the families of the members of the company who lost their lives.”
The tragedy happened on Saturday after the chartered fishing boat the photographers were on capsized in Goose Bay.
The 8.5m vessel is believed to have overturned around 10am after colliding with a whale.
Police said 11 people were on board and five died.
Police told a news conference on Saturday that the “full-scale” maritime search and rescue operation was over and the police dive team was in the process of recovering the deceased.
“This was a tragic event and the police are supporting those involved at this very difficult time,” police said.
Police said the passengers were part of a birding group that came from all parts of the country and hired a charter boat.
Maritime NZ investigators have begun their inquiries into yesterday’s tragic events at Goose Bay to establish the cause of the crash.
This will involve examining the conditions of the day, examining the vessel and interviewing those involved.
We will conduct our investigation with the utmost sensitivity for those involved.
Maritime NZ said in a statement that investigators will work alongside staff from the New Zealand Police and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) who are also establishing what happened. TAIC announced on Saturday evening that it was investigating.
“The exact circumstances surrounding the incident have yet to be established. No further information is available at this time. We will assess the information gathered and decide on next steps.”
On Saturday, Maritime NZ said it had sent two investigators from Christchurch to Kaikōura and all investigative activity will begin after rescue and recovery operations are completed.
“Maritime NZ sends its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of those who died in today’s incident,” said Maritime NZ lead investigator Tracy Phillips.
“We will be carrying out a thorough investigation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Shipping Act and will do all we can to support the New Zealand Police in their investigation.”