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Dolphin Encounter® Update for December 2014

Posted by Ed Nolan (0 Comments)
Thursday, 15 January 2015 in Default

Welcome to the last Dolphin Encounter® update for 2014.

The weather has started to settle this month with calmer seas and amazing water visibility. Visibility has been so clear that you don’t need to be in the water to get a great look at the dolphins.

We have started to encounter the more consistent larger pods of dolphins with numbers ranging from 100-500 individuals. These larger groups are certainly a spectacular sight particular with the incredible acrobatic displays they’ve been putting on recently. 

The dolphins locations have been varied, from being close to South Bay Harbour in areas such as the Punchbowl and Goose Bay, but they’ve also been further afield offshore of Black Rock and Haumuri Bluffs. The longer travel time has enabled passengers to enjoy some of the other marine life in the area such as albatrosses and fur seals and even a giant petrel has come to check the swimmers out at the back of the boat. 

Interaction with the duskies has been sensational and possibly this higher level of interaction may be attributed to the crystal clear waters. It’s as if the duskies can’t get close enough, or can’t get enough of the swimmers entertainment resulting in a mesmerising experience for those lucky enough to make eye contact and friends with a completely wild dolphin. 

With great sea conditions and visibility, we have managed once again to drag Dennis out of the office for a bit of filming and have had some incredible encounters with some highly inquisitive duskies. On one trip Dennis had his GoPro in the water for some underwater footage when a very curious dusky approached his GoPro. This dusky stayed with the boat for quite some time approaching the camera vertically and almost sitting motionless in the water with its nose touching the GoPro, whilst making some interesting noises. This type of interaction was incredible to witness from the boat and Dennis achieved some fabulous footage. Keep a lookout on our Facebook page for the release of Dennis's amazing video on January 17th.

The crew have been in the festive spirit and enjoyed sharing Christmas and New Year plans with all our customers and our swimmers have been getting into the swing of things by singing the odd Christmas Carol to the dolphins which they appeared to have enjoyed.

Other marine life this month has included 3 visits by the orca or killer whale and a few sightings of the Hector’s dolphins. The orca sightings have been incredible this month with a huge variety of behaviours being exhibited. We’ve seen 3 distinct pods, some of which are well known to us such as Prop due to some unfortunate injuries she sustained when hit by a boat. Prop’s pod usually travels around New Zealand much slower compared to other orca and it’s always great to see that she’s alive and well. Other orca passing through have been unknown to us but this hasn’t stopped us enjoying their company. Some of them have been seen tail slapping and swimming with their pectoral fins out the water. One group had a very small calf being escorted by an enormous male but this calf was determined to race over to the boat rolling on its side and bow-ride, clearly determined to leave the big male behind and have some fun. After playing with the boat, it then proceeded to jump out of the water much to the delight of crew and passengers on board. Encounters like these truly are an amazing privilege.

The Hector’s dolphins are endemic to New Zealand and with only an estimated population of 300 individuals in the Kaikoura area, we only see them on approximately 5% of our tours. Hectors dolphins have a preference for shallow, murky inshore waters whereas the duskies tend to prefer clearer waters and the depth of water doesn’t appear to bother them with some days being found in waters 1,000m deep. As a result, we don’t often encounter Hector’s dolphins but when we do, it’s a pleasant surprise.

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

Tour Photos
 © Dolphin Encounter» Dolphin Swimmer
 Our guide Rachel enjoying herself on the job. 
© Dolphin Encounter» Rachel
 A wide shot of dolphin swimming down toward the Haumuri Bluffs, with a the background of some early morning fog to add to the atmosphere. 
» Dolphin Swimming Scene
 A dolphin swimmer smiles as she watches a dusky doing somersaults. 
© Dolphin Encounter» Dolphin Acrobatics
 Guides Chantal and Min with dolphin swimmers showing the Christmas Spirit. 
© Dolphin Encounter» 'Christmas Crew'
 Dennis out filming the dusky dolphins. 
» Dennis Filming
 The well known orca female called Prop. 
© Dolphin Encounter» Orca
 © Dolphin Encounter» Orca Tail Slap
 Orca calf spy-hopping. 
© Dolphin Encounter» Orca Calf

 

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