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Welcome To The Dolphin Encounter® Update For May 2014.

Posted by Dennis Buurman (0 Comments)
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 in Default

Welcome To The Dolphin Encounter® Update For May 2014.

We experienced several wintry days in early May with strong winds and yet more snow on the mountains, but the weather settled down and became unexpectedly warm during the latter part of the month. As a result, we spent the last few weeks of May enjoying warm days and sunny weather with Kaikoura recording temperatures of up to 24°C. Strange considering the amazing backdrop of fresh snow on the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain range.

We’ve had some incredible memorable moments this month often encountering large pods of dusky dolphins. There’s been some great interaction, but also some amazing sights particularly of the dolphins “running”, a technique that’s believed to be more energy efficient. The view of hundreds of dolphins “running” whilst in the water or from the boat is purely sensational.

Pod numbers have once again varied from small scattered groups of dolphins to much larger pods of 500-600 individuals. Due to the nature of the ever changing social structure amongst dusky dolphins, we never know how many dolphins we’re likely to encounter, so it’s as much as a surprise for crew as it is for our passengers. The larger pods always to tend to have wow factor as for most people, they never expect to see such large groups. But whatever the size of the pod, it’s still an amazing privilege to encounter and interact with wild dolphins entirely on their terms and not ours.

During the winter months, the dolphins typically travel further afield and this month, their locations have been consistent with this winter pattern. The location of the dolphins has been reasonably consistent with them being found in areas such as the Conway and the Kelp and slightly closer to home at South Point. The travel times to these areas are generally longer and can be up to 1 hour in each direction. These longer journeys enable us to keep a look out for the abundance of marine life that can be found in the area. The wildlife in this area can be diverse and ranges from oceanic birds including the magnificent albatross, New Zealand fur seals and other species of dolphins.

It’s also the time of year where the graceful humpback whale is sometimes seen travelling through Kaikoura from Antarctica on their migration northwards towards the tropics for the breeding and calving season. The duskies have enjoyed their company on the odd occasion clearly excited at the presence of their larger cousins.

The dolphins have also been enjoying the company of another species of dolphin, the common dolphin. It’s unusual at this time of year to encounter common dolphins. Sometimes we’ve just seen small groups of commons engaging with the duskies, but at other times, the duskies are in the minority interacting with larger pods of up to 200 commons. Commons show no interest in swimmers choosing the more preferable option to bow-ride, which gives spectators a great opportunity to compare the two species together.

Another marine mammal that’s been keen to interact with swimmers is the New Zealand fur seal. These seals have initially been spotted porpoising amongst the dolphins trying to keep up with them, but we’ve had some hilarious encounters with some youngsters keen to get involved with human entertainers. 

This month, we’ve had some real wildlife extravaganzas with an abundance of marine life topped up by an unusually frequent number of visits from the orca or killer whale. As a general rule of thumb we normally see fewer pods of orca over the winter months, so it was with some surprise that we’ve seen them on 6 occasions this month. Some of the sightings have been of orca that are known to us such as Jigsaw and the two males that regularly accompany her, but we’ve also had 4 visits from orca that we haven’t seen before. The first week of May saw the arrival of two males that decided to hang around in Kaikoura for several days. It was obvious from the lack of dolphins that these boys were of the “marine mammal munching” variety and clearly the dolphins had sought refuge somewhere else. It turns out that these 2 males are regular visitors to the Hauraki Gulf and haven’t been known to venture down to Kaikoura before.

The water temperature is slowly cooling down and currently sits between 12-13°C. Surprisingly most swimmers comment that it’s not as cold as what they thought it would be, which is no doubt down to the thick wetsuits designed to keep swimmers warm, gloves and boots and of course not forgetting hot water hoses and hot chocolate at the end of the swim.

It’s been a busy and exciting month, but that’s all our news for now.

So, till next time..........

Tour Photos
 © Dolphin Encounter» Common Dolphins
 Great view of the orca.  © Dolphin Encounter» Orca Boat
 Dusky dolphins in a hurry.  © Dolphin Encounter» Racing Dolphins
 © Dolphin Encounter» Dolphin Swimmer
 Nice photo.  © Dolphin Encounter» Orca
 © Dolphin Encounter» Boat and Swimmers

 

 

 

 

 

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