Saturday 14 November 2009

I'm meant to be writing about the other sort...

Whales have been big in the news this week (ha ha).

There's a story in today's paper about the resident population of Bryde's whales right here in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. While they're not endangered globally, it's rare for them to live so close to a big city, so that's special - but it's also a problem because they keep getting whacked by ships buzzing in and out of the harbour. The marine biologists want to research their movements and habits to try to come up with a strategy.

It'd be really cool to see them - so far I haven't even seen the orca that visit here frequently; though a big pod of dolphins cruising right past Devonport wharf was a brilliant gift one bright morning.

The other news was that Whale Watch Kaikoura has just won the Supreme Award in the Responsible Tourism Awards in London, ahead of 5000 entries from around the world. Good for them: they've been working hard for years building up the business, while the town has been feeding off the visitors they've generated, and they put on a great trip.

We went out with them some years ago, and it was a smooth operation, with comfortable seats, sonograph, big screen TV showing the movements of the whales, and plenty of action. Not that much of it came from the whales, it must be said - we would rush to where a whale had been seen rising, look at a black hump in the water for 10 minutes while it rested on the surface and re-oxygenated, and then there would be a rush of excitement and shutter-clicking as it gathered itself to dive again and the tail came clear of the water, and that would be it for 40 minutes till it came up again.

We did manage to see five that afternoon, and it was impressive and all, but the most entertainment came from a huge pod of dolphins that were putting on an incredible SeaWorld display - leaping, crossing over, falling backwards, and all apparently just for the fun of it.

Kaikoura's whales, a resident population of sperm whales, plus other species that pass through attracted by the deep trench just offshore, its cold waters full of fish, can also be viewed from the air - when I went up with Kaikoura Helicopters earlier this year, I could see their size and shape perfectly, and it was really impressive. Also, huge fun! Whichever way you do it, though, you get practically instant whales - gotta be better than steaming along for hours just on the off-chance (Boston Whale Watch, I'm looking at you!)

The photo is a cheat: it's one of the humpbacks I saw in Galapagos. But you'd never have known, if I hadn't said, would you? Now, back to writing my story about Mt Snowdon. In Wales.

1 comment:

the queen said...

That's hysterical! Whale-watching is a joke here, seriously, people come back saying "We saw some shadows that might have been whales." Amazing there is a place where one can actually see whales.


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