Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When We Watched Whales

I had a week off of work to go explore what remains a mystery to me on South Island. First I traveled with some ski field friends to Christchurch to pick up Kat and to see the Mumford and Sons concert.  They are one of my favorite bands at the moment and put on an amazing show for us all.  Then we drove north along the east coast to Kaikoura.  The next four photos depicts some of the beauty found along the east coast.

An angel wearing white as the snow topped mountains.

(Kat Eatough)

Kaikoura is a breathtaking scene surrounded by snow-topped mountains with pure blue ocean water stretching out beyond.  There is a gigantic deepwater trench offshore by only 20 km.  It is deep enough that Giant Squid live in the abyss and their predators, the Sperm Whales, live here year round to hunt them.  There is also a mixing of warm northern waters with the cold antarctic currents... reminds me a bit of Shark Bay though two more different habitats would be difficult to find.  

Sperm Whale Diving

Only Mountains can make this Sperm Whale look small

For these reasons Kaikoura is one of the best Whale and Dolphin Watching places in the world.  They have a 98% success rate for the whale watching tours and you can see anything from Sperm Whales, Killer Whales to even the occasional Blue Whales.  On this tour all we saw were Sperm Whales, Dusky Dolphins and Fur Seals.  The ocean is just teeming with life and a place like Kaikoura brings it to the forefront of our minds. Perhaps that is why I draw the connection between this place and Shark Bay.  This is also one of the few regions where you stand a good chance of witnessing an Albatross on wing or possibly even at their breeding ground.  Only once before have i seen this on Isla de la Plata, a small island off the coast of Ecuador near to the Galapagos Islands.

A small pod of Dusky Dolphins.

Kat and I went swimming with the dolphins and as cheesey as it may seem I would highly recommend this.  These are 100% wild dolphins with a curiosity to parallel our own.  We ended up swimming in a super pod of over 100 dolphins!  One dolphin in particular took an interest in me and we swam all about just testing each other.  Entering into their world is something many people dream of but will never understand until you actually get the chance to do it.

Know for there acrobatics this playful little dolphin shows off.

We left Kaikoura with a feeling of connection to the natural world and as we drove further north along the coast we stopped at a Fur Seal Nursery.  It was a place where the babies can go up onto shore and be a bit more safe from the predators of the ocean.  Here they play underneath a waterfall and develop those social skills necessary for a life among their kind.  It is an heart warming scene to watch them flop about exploring their immediate world.

A moment when I felt like David Attenborough

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts."

~Bertrand Russell~

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