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Dolphin Encounter Update for November 2016

Posted by Tracy Cooper (0 Comments)
Wednesday, 21 December 2016 in Default

Dolphin Encounter® Update For November 2016

Welcome to the Dolphin Encounter® update for November 2016. As you can all imagine, we were devastated by the events of 14th November. At 12.02am Kaikoura was rocked by a huge 7.8 magnitude earthquake that caused structural damage to buildings, roads and essential services.

Fortunately all our staff were accounted for, but the events of that night changed the operational status of our business for the forthcoming weeks.

Our building suffered minor damage. However, with at least 10 faults involved in the earthquake and with the Kaikoura quake classified as New Zealand’s second largest quake, it has caused significant damage to the seabed with movement of up to 6m in some places. With our South Bay Marina, the sea floor has risen over 1m making it impossible at this current time to take our larger boats out to see the dolphins outside of high tide.

The state highway to the north, south and Inland road suffered extensive slips that sent massive boulders tumbling down cliffs onto the road below, cutting Kaikoura off to the outside world.

The response and support that we received was enormous with the arrival of 6 naval vessels from both New Zealand and overseas. The initial biggest task was to ensure everyone’s safety and to start with the enormous task of evacuating more than 2,000 tourists that were stranded in Kaikoura. The Encounter team were keep busy transporting tourists and their luggage to either the helipad or to South Bay where naval tenders transferred passengers to the HMNZS Canterbury to evacuate people to Christchurch.

There’s been a huge amount of work to undertake and the team have been kept busy either working with Encounter Kaikoura or out in the community assisting with Civil Defence and the big clean-up.

Our team have been working hard to support one another and keep busy focussing on land based projects. We also took out Radio New Zealand, 9 days after the quake and found all the marine life still in the area including a pod of 300 dolphins. The team were super excited to see such a large concentration of dolphins just going about their normal business. So, all the marine life is ready and waiting, we just need the return of the tourists to get back out there!!!

Prior to the earthquake, we were still busy progressing with the training of our new seasonal team with Marina, Nick and Katie working hard to become a fully-fledged dolphin swimming guide.

Dolphin behaviour was a little unpredictable pre-quake, but not surprisingly because we were in the main mating and calving season for the duskies. We had just started to see some beautiful young calves with their mums. Some females even bringing their calves over to the boats to introduce them to the technique of bow-riding.

A passing pod of long-finned pilot whales caused excitement on one tour. We don’t often see pilot whales on our tours due to their tendency to be offshore, but had amazing looks at them at the start of the year when they hung around Kaikoura waters for almost 3 weeks during January. Recent research has shown that pilot whales undertake 15 min high speed deep dives going down to 1000m as fast as possible chasing squid and have been given the nickname “cheetah of the deep.”

Work is continuing on clearing both the State Highway and the Inland Road and the hope is to have it open by Christmas with limited access. The road north to Blenheim at this stage will be closed for at least 12 months with work planned to dredge the harbour to enable our vessels to get out of the harbour and commence our tours once again.

So, that’s all our news for now.

Till next time..........

Tour Photos
 © Dolphin Encounter» Swimming With Dolphins
 © Dolphin Encounter» Dusky Dolphins
 © Dolphin Encounter» Pilot Whales
 © Dennis Buurman» Seabed Rise
 © Dennis Buurman» Main Highway North Kaikoura
 © Dennis Buurman» Prime Minister Visits Kaikoura

 

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