Latest News at Dolphin Encounter
Dolphin Encounter® Update For May 2015
Welcome to the Dolphin Encounter® Update For May 2015.
Typically at this time of year we start to quieten down, however the momentum of the summer has continued into autumn, which is fantastic.This month we have hosted lots of tours for university students and have regularly had all 3 boats operating, which has been wonderful. For the majority of the month, the weather has been superb and the dolphins have been relatively close to South Bay, which is unusual for this time of year.
As expected for autumn, the good weather had to come to an end with a spectacular storm bringing storm force winds, snow and huge seas. Swells reached up to 7m and many staff here commented on the seas being the biggest they’ve seen in this area for a very long time. These massive swells created havoc on the roads with the State Highway being closed at times both north and south of Kaikoura. It did however make a fantastic photo opportunity from land of course as our boats were most definitely grounded for the 4 day duration of this bad weather event.
The bad weather did cause some excitement for locals and tourists with a large male southern elephant seal hauling out on the beach just south of Kaikoura near Barney's Rock. He didn’t stop for long in this spot before relocating to Goose Bay. This individual decided to haul himself right up the beach lying next to the State Highway stopping lots of traffic and reaching national news. Southern elephant seals are the largest seals in the world with the males growing up to 5m in length. The New Zealand population is mainly found in the Sub-Antarctic Antipodes and Campbell Islands, although it is unknown where this male had originated from. It’s not often that we get to enjoy elephant seals and there’s the occasional sighting of them each year, but usually individuals aren’t as accessible as this one.
The dolphins have been fantastic this month and we’ve enjoyed the fact that they’ve been found much closer to South Bay than what we’re used to for this time of year. It’s fairly typical during the winter months for the dolphins to travel much further to the south and into deeper water, so each day has always been a surprise to find out where the dolphins have been located. Again, both Dennis and Ian are dedicated each day sitting up on the mountain range or the Kaikoura Peninsula early in the morning spotting for dolphins. Throughout the winter time, we also occasionally need to use a local charter plane to assist us with pinpointing the dolphin’s location. The plane gives a much greater aerial perspective over a much larger area than what the boats are able to cover.
We’ve encountered big pods of up to 400 dolphins with the dolphins located both to the north and south of the Kaikoura Peninsula. They have been found in areas such as the Punchbowl, Goose Bay, Conway and Ohau. These locations are all within a 15-45 minute travel time. The dolphin’s behaviour has even inspired Dennis to get out on the water to film with his drone.
Finally, some of our crew attended a Project Jonah marine mammal medic course this month. Project Jonah is a registered charity set up for the protection and conservation of marine mammals. This course had to be rescheduled back in February due to a mass stranding of pilot whales at Farewell Spit. Farewell Spit is a notorious area for stranding with a mass stranding occurring there almost every year. Although strandings in Kaikoura are rare, the crew were taught techniques to assist marine mammals in any stranding event in New Zealand. For further information, see their website: http://www.projectjonah.org.nz/
So, that’s all our news for now.
Till next time..........
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