Latest News at Dolphin Encounter
Dolphin Encounter® Update For December 2015.
Welcome to the last Dolphin Encounter® update for 2015.
It’s been an amazing month, both in terms of passenger numbers and dolphin behaviour. Tourism numbers this season have skyrocketed, not only for Kaikoura, but for the whole country and it’s the busiest we’ve been in quite some time.
We operate under a strict permit system and are restricted in the numbers of swimmers who are able to come out on each tour. Our advice to future passengers is to ensure you book well in advance to secure a swim space. We’ve had many stories of people driving all the way from Franz Josef, without a reservation, in the hope of swimming with the dolphins, only to be disappointed due to the popularity of the swimming option combined with our permit restrictions. Swimming spaces really are at a premium at this time of the year, with some passengers booking up to a year in advance! For those unable to swim, watching the dolphins from the boat can be just as rewarding, especially with the spectacular acrobatic performances regularly exhibited by the dolphins.
We’ve all been thoroughly enjoying large pod numbers, regularly in their hundreds whilst on some days, pods in excess of 500 individuals have been encountered. The large pods certainly have the “wow” factor, but each tour is unique in its own right and with the ever changing composition of the pod, we never know how many or even where the dolphins are likely to be located. Our pods have been regularly located in areas such as Goose Bay, Black Rock and even the Mikenui, a beautiful area with a stunning back drop of the limestone cliffs by the Haumuri Bluffs.
We’ve witnessed an abundance of different behaviours with the dolphins throughout the month with the dusky calves growing rapidly. Some calves are busy practicing their acrobatic skills, although mastering the perfect technique of their exuberant leaps and jumps may take quite some time. The females are busy teaching their calves new skills such as bow-riding and even actively deviating from their course to bring their youngsters into a group of swimmers, doing a lap around the swimmers then taking her calf away again.... it’s as if to say “when you grow up, you can come and be amused by these strange aquatic creatures on a daily basis”! Mating behaviour is also still very evident with this month being the last opportunity for the male to impregnate the female. Mating groups are incredibly competitive with spectacular leaps and jumps creating a perfect photo opportunity for those enjoying the dolphins from the boat.
Other marine life of interest this month has included New Zealand fur seals, albatross, Hector’s dolphins and the formidable orca or killer whale. It’s been an incredible month for orca and probably one of the most common questions on the boat is “when do you see orca??” Due to their transient nature, we never know when we’re likely to see them,so it’s as much as a surprise for the crew as it is for the passengers. The easiest way to identify individuals is through unique markings mainly on their dorsal fins. This month, a big male known as Koru has passed through with a female known as Nicky. Koru gets his name because his fin curls over at the back resembling a fern frond. Another female known as Prop has been seen on several occasions and due to serious injuries sustained by a boat propeller, she’s very distinctive. On one visit from a female called Jigsaw, the orca were seen actively feeding which attracted the attention of some very keen albatross keen on stealing their catch or at least scavenge some scraps from the orca. Despite a challenging sea that day, the tour was a real wildlife extravaganza!!
Finally, the crew got into the festive spirit adorning various Christmas hats and having some Christmas fun.
So, that’s all our news for now, wishing you all a very Happy New Year.
Till next time..........
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