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Dolphin Encounter® Update February 2014

Posted by Ed Nolan (0 Comments)
Thursday, 6 March 2014 in Default

Welcome to the Dolphin Encounter® update for February 2014.

We continue to be busy this month with our peak summer season. The weather once again has been unpredictable with glorious sunny days interspersed with the odd storm, even bringing a fresh dusting of snow to the seaward Kaikoura mountain range. Despite this unsettled weather the ocean temperature has remained a consistent 17°C which is nearing the warmest the ocean gets to during the summer months here in Kaikoura.

As autumn approaches and the mornings become darker, we’ve changed our check-in times to reflect this. The huge advantage of this later check-in is that we’re on the water for sunrise, the best part of the day for sure, with fiery red skies and the sun emerging on the horizon. Many people ask why the 0530 tour is such a popular time of day, the reason being that we see beautiful sunrises, the ocean tends to be the calmest and the dolphins are heading inshore after having been offshore feeding overnight.

The locations of the dolphins has been varied, with the dolphins being as close as 15 minutes away and other times being as far away as 1 hour in travel time. The longer travel times have definitely been worth it though,  with huge pods of up to 600 individuals being further south. Passengers can understand why sometimes we by-pass smaller pods closer to home in order to get to the large pods. Another advantage of course is the scenic journey along the coastline with the opportunity to watch out for the abundance of other marine life.

If time permitted, we would often stop at Barney’s Rock, a local haunt for the New Zealand fur seal and other breeding birds. Barney’s Rock has a small breeding colony for these seals and at the moment, the pups are busy playing and fighting with each other or the large bull kelp in the small inter-tidal pools; a worthwhile detour.

We can sometimes see up to 3 different species of dolphins in the Kaikoura area and this month has been exceptional in seeing all 3, the duskies, Hector’s dolphins and the common dolphins. The Hector’s dolphins are the smallest and rarest of the oceanic dolphins and because the duskies are normally out further, we don't often see them. However when the duskies are close inshore like they have been recently, we get the opportunity to see the Hector's. They have a distinctive rounded dorsal fin and are easily distinguished form the duskies, especially if they are seen together. On occasion, the Hector’s have been seen actively interacting with the duskies and even with swimmers, a highly unusual occurrence.

The common dolphins are a little more reserved, preferring to engage and bow ride with the boat rather than interacting with swimmers. It’s always exciting to see them, even if just a small handful of them, but we encountered a pod of around 100 individuals which actively played with the boat and even performed a few leaps and jumps, an unusual occurrence.

Orca have once again visited the area, but only on 2 occasions this month. One pod comprised of our “regulars”, Nicky and Koru, whilst the other pod remains a mystery.

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

Tour Photos
 © Dolphin Encounter» Dolphin Swimmers
 A group of happy, enthusiastic dolphin swimmers.  © Dolphin Encounter» Happy Dolphin Swimmers
 Early morning passengers get the bonus of a beautiful sunrise.  © Dolphin Encounter» Sunrise
 Plenty of dolphins for the swimmers!  © Dolphin Encounter» Dolphins Galore
 An approaching weather system provides quite a dramatic photo.  © Dolphin Encounter» Approaching Weather
 © Dolphin Encounter» Orca Lob-Tailing
 Nice views of a bull orca.  © Dolphin Encounter» Boat and Orca
 This photo shows the grace and beauty of the dusky dolphins.  © Dolphin Encounter» Dusky Leaps
 Beautiful photo of a Hector's dolphin.  © Dolphin Encounter» Hector's Dolphin

 

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