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Dolphin Encounter® Update for December 2016

Posted by Tracy Cooper (0 Comments)
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 in Default

Welcome to the Dolphin Encounter® Update for December 2016.

We continue to be affected by the impacts of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on November 14, which has been described as “one of the most complex earthquakes ever recorded on land”. The season has taken a slightly different turn prior to what was anticipated to be a very busy summer season and for the first half of December, we were still unable to operate our tours.

There has been a huge amount of discussions and planning regarding the recovery of Kaikoura, but the tasks involved are so enormous that things can’t be fixed instantly. The Government has just pledged $5 million to dredge the harbour and return it to the same operational status prior to the quake and a further $2 billion to fix the roads and railway links. The road north to Blenheim will take the longest with at least 9 slips larger than the previous “biggest slip” recorded in New Zealand.

Diversions have been put in place on the Inland Road and the road was finally opened to two-way unrestricted access on 19th December with the State Highway south reopening 21st December.

Prior to this, only a determined few have succeeded in coming into Kaikoura with the only access via plane, helicopter or an escorted convoy via the Inland Road, with the road susceptible to closure due to aftershocks and adverse weather conditions.

We’ve started operating tours, although they are very much dependent on the tide and sea conditions. Our larger boats are only able to operate around  2.5 hrs either side of high tide, due to the seabed uplift in the area and so we’re currently using our smaller boat Kotuku for most of our tours.

It’s exhilarating to be back on the water again and to see the duskies. We feel like we’ve missed so much in the 5 weeks since the quake. The dusky calves have grown rapidly and dolphins are still in the area that we would normally expect to see them during the summer, which is fantastic. Of course there was a lot of initial concern surrounding the impact of the quake on all the marine life in the area and it’s hard to know in the early stages of the earthquake exactly what happened,but all we know is that the duskies are here ready and waiting.

It appears that the ocean is still abundant with marine life, hundreds of duskies, Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and a wider diversity of oceanic birds including the magnificent albatross. The Whale Watch team are also reporting sightings of whales too, so it would seem that the biggest affect has been on the local “human” population and the infrastructure in and around the Kaikoura area.

Interaction with the dolphins has been amazing with the dolphins exhibiting their usual inquisitive nature. They haven’t changed in the slightest and some of the crew have taken the opportunity to go for a swim. We’re calling it the essential “earthquake therapy!” Even after working with these dolphins for such a long time, the novelty factor never wears off. Diving down into the realm of the dusky dolphin with dolphins racing over to greet swimmers as they spiral down and hold their breath for as long as they can is simply magical. Combine this with making eye contact with a wild dolphin that chooses to engage and interact with a human and it makes for an incredible once in a lifetime experience.

We hope as time progresses and with the roads open, that people will gain the confidence to visit Kaikoura and discover the beauty of the area and all that it has to offer both on land and out at sea.

So, that’s all our news for now. Till next time..........

Tour Photos
 © Dennis Buurman» The Main Rail Trunk Line
 © Albatross Encounter» Barney's Rock
 © Dennis Buurman» Cruise Ship Caledonian Star
 © Dennis Buurman» Loading Passengers
 © Dolphin Encounter» First Dolphin Trip After Quake
 © Dolphin Encounter» Family That Chartered Boat
 © Dolphin Encounter» Leaping Dolphins
 © Dolphin Encounter» Dolphins
 © Dolphin Encounter» Happy Dolphin Swimmers

 

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