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Dolphin Encounter® Update For March 2016

Posted by Karra Wilson (0 Comments)
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 in Default

Welcome to the Dolphin Encounter® update for March 2016.

It’s been an unbelievable summer with our dolphin swimming spaces being fully booked and lots of keen spectators on almost every tour. The dolphins have been amazing, being found in large pods of 300-500 individuals and located in areas such as Goose Bay and Mikenui. The Mikenui is a beautiful location set beneath a limestone peninsula in shallow waters. It’s a favourite place for the duskies to be found at this time of year.

Interaction with the duskies has been astounding and passengers never cease to be amazed by the high level of interaction and inquisitiveness of these majestic wild dolphins. Why the duskies choose to engage and interact with us will always remain a mystery, however, with a nocturnal feeding strategy and plenty of time throughout the day, I’m sure they’re no doubt mildly amused by our presence and inadequacy in the water compared to them.

Again we’ve experienced a wildlife extravaganza with a huge diversity of marine life seen on our tours. Hanging out with the duskies have been quite a few common dolphins, a species which prefers to play with the boat rather than engage with swimmers, but always great to see. We had a brief encounter with a pod of bottlenose dolphins and long-finned pilot whales and initial photo identification has shown that some of these individuals were also seen during January and February this year. It was amazing to see them again.

Orca, or killer whales have also passed through this month. It’s probably the most commonly asked question “when do you see orca” and due to their transient nature, we never know when we’re likely to see them, but we’re always keeping an eye out for them. Some of the orca are easy to recognise if they have distinctive markings on their dorsal fins and this month we were excited to see a large male known as Moby travelling with his pod. Moby has a long shallow notch on his dorsal fin and hasn’t been seen by us for several years.

We received an update from Heidi Pearson, a researcher who was carrying out research here during the summer months. The goal of the research was to attach a suction-cup tag with a video camera to dusky dolphins. In addition to the video camera, the tag also has a time depth recorder for measuring dive depth, and satellite and VHF transmitters for tracking the dolphin and recovering the tag. This is the first time that video cameras have been attached to dusky dolphins and they had a successful field season obtaining 9 hours of footage which is currently being analysed. 

This is just one of the many examples whereby the Encounter Foundation, set up by Encounter Kaikoura, contributes toward research projects. The objective of the Foundation is to support or initiate projects that primarily enhance the natural environment, both locally and further afield. For each passenger who joins us on our tours, a small percentage of the fare is contributed into the Encounter Foundation, which assists in protecting our very special natural environment. So thank you to everyone who has been on our tours, you’ve all done your part to help out as well as enjoying the company of the magical dusky dolphin. Take a look at the Encounter Foundation on our website for more information.

We’ve been busy assisting the Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust in releasing Kaikoura’s famous bird the Hutton’s shearwater. This is a small alpine breeding seabird that breeds high up in the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range, the scenic backdrop for the Kaikoura Township. As chicks leave the burrow on their maiden flight, some become disorientated with the lights in town and crash land. Once the birds have been banded, they are released at sea and we have been actively involved introducing these birds to the ocean for the first time.

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

Tour Photos
 © Dolphin Encounter» Jade Looking Very Happy
 © Dolphin Encounter» Common Dolphin
 © Dolphin Encounter» How To ID Pilot Whales
 © Dolphin Encounter» Watching Orca
 © Dolphin Encounter» Male Orca_Moby

 

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