Sunday, 10 February 2013

Kaikoura


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Dolphin Watch

Well the Whale Watching was cancelled! Apparently the sea was too rough about 5 or 6 miles off-shore. However we were assured that the Dolphin Watch would not be affected as these were closer inshore. I signed up for the 9am ride and turned up at the office after breakfast to be kitted out in a wetsuit. A very pretty sight. Their were about a dozen of us on the launch as we set off to find the dolphins. These dolphins we were assured were not fed and were completely wild. I imagine they are well used to being observed by humans though. The boat set off in a southerly direction and maintained a distance of abut 100 yards from the coast. After about 40 minutes we came across a pod of dolphins. Our guides told us these were both Ducky and Hector's Dolphins, which are smaller. This pod has about 300 members were were told.

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The dolphins seemed to be in a playful mood as they surfed in front of the boat. sometimes, we are told, the dolphins are sleeping, which they do with half their brain at a time. A ring of alert dolphins surrounds the pod of sleeping ones. Their only known predators are the occasional Orca. We watched the dolphins swim at speed and saw the antics they performed; jumps and somersaults. The guide told us that these exertions were used to communicate direction, pace and danger. After a while the boat slowed to a stop and we prepared to enter the water with the dolphins. We would have to repeatably do this as humans are cumbersome swimmers and the dolphins would quickly tire of us and swim off.

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After entering the water, slipping in and not diving we were instructed to swim as fast as possible toward the dolphins. If we were lucky an individual would take an interest in us and swim in circles around us. We were told that maintaining eye contact was important and we could make a clicking noise too which would encourage them. The most I saw was a blur of silver grey as a dolphin whipped past and after each chase in he water it seemed like the dolphins got more and more bored. In the end it was more interesting to stay in the boat and watch the dolphins in comfort.

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