Latest News at Dolphin Encounter
Dolphin Encounter Update May 2013
Welcome to the Dolphin Encounter® update for May 2013.
May has been a month full of challenges with both the dolphins and weather influencing our operational ability. Strong southerly winds lasting several days at a time created rough seas, which prevented us from even venturing out onto the ocean; definitely a crushing blow for all those keen to embrace the cold water and swim with the duskies. Regrettably winter can initiate these unfortunate circumstances.
Dolphin behaviour too has hindered some of our tours with dolphins simply not in the area that we’re permitted to work within. We work under strict permits which specify the area that we’re allowed to operate in and during winter months, following a typical seasonal movement, the dolphins can venture further afield. We pull out all the stops to find them and frequently utilise a local scenic tour operator hiring a plane to assist with our searches.
As a result of the dolphin’s unpredictable locations, they have been encountered in areas as close as 15 minutes from South Bay Harbour, as well as over 60 minutes travel time from the harbour on other occasions.
On occasions, the dolphins have been travelling at speed, giving swimmers a good energetic work out!!! The duskies have been recorded keeping up with the boat at 35km/hr and therefore, as humans in the water we are simply inadequate by comparison. This then reinforces the idea for swimmers to be active in the water and to make life as interesting as they possibly can in an attempt to increase the chances that the duskies may come over and check them out.
It’s been an exceptional month for encounters with other marine life including four separate visits by the orca or killer whale. The mere presence of orca in the area may be the reason for the distinct lack of dolphins that we’ve encountered! Orca are the main predator for the dusky dolphin and out of the 4 sightings this month; three of the pods were unknown to us. It is possible that these “new” orca have upset the duskies forcing them to flee further afield. Due to orca in the area, we have been able to operate several wildlife tours specifically out to view the orca, which has been an amazing bonus for people to have such a close encounter with orca in their natural environment and certainly a new experience for most.
Humpback whales have just started their annual winter migration through Kaikoura heading north. They leave the cold Antarctic waters heading northwards towards the tropics for the calving and breeding season. Usually sightings of humpbacks are brief as they are on a mission to their destination, but one youngster surprised us. On a general wildlife tour, one of our vessels went over to investigate a bait ball of fish that had created a feeding frenzy amongst some birds including the albatross. Whilst watching these birds feeding, a young humpback whale surfaced nearby. This small humpback appeared to be quite happy feeding, only surfacing for 2 breaths before raising its tail high in the air to take a deep dive.
The abundance of marine life this month has certainly been keeping one of the owners (Dennis Buurman) exceptionally busy. He’s been out on the water at every available opportunity taking photos and video to increase his collection of amazing images. Dennis has had some sensational encounters, particularly with the orca and remarked that one particular experience was one of his best yet.Check out our You Tube footage of orca that was recently shot by Dennis and can be viewed here on Facebook.
Finally at the end of the month, yet another sensational sighting almost 12 miles out to sea. Dennis, from his spotting hut on the hill, had spotted some splashing activity out to sea and helped steer us in the right direction. On arrival, the splashing activity revealed the presence of three different species of marine mammals, all travelling together. Previously, we’ve had the occasional rare encounter with long-finned pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins travelling together, but also with these dolphins was another slightly different species, the southern right whale dolphin.
Known as “Lissodelphis” or Lisso’s, these dolphins are unmistakable in their appearance. First of all they are pure black on the upper side, and white underneath, but they also lack a dorsal fin distinguishing themselves from other dolphin species throughout the Southern Ocean. They are such an infrequent visitor to the area that the crew onboard had only seen them on one other occasion, or not at all, in their combined long years out at sea!
So, that’s all our news for what has been a very exciting and different month, don't forget to follow us on Facebook for the very latest happenings at Dolphin Encounter.
Till next time..........
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