Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Kaikura to Kahurangi

Swimming with Dolphins

Wednesday 15th February

This was the rest day from the conference. We got up at 7.15, had muesli and coffee, and drove down to the Dolphin Encounter base. There we were fitted out in wetsuits — and fortunately they had prescription goggles suitable for a short-sighted Danny!

Half an hour out we were in a huge pod of maybe 300 dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus). We did four swims, where we were dropped off in front of the pod and then swam along as the dolphins careened past us, singly and in groups. We were supposed to make strange noises and duck dive to attract attention, with the goal of getting dolphins to swim in circles around us, but I only had one dolphin show any interest in me, and that only briefly.

After the swims we tried to photograph the dolphins. Even with my DSLR (and cheap telephoto lens) it was hard to focus and photograph fast enough to catch the dolphins jumping out of the water and back in, especially from a moving boat. I ended up with a lot of photos of water disturbed by dolphin re-entry, and several photos of leaping dolphins that would have been excellent if the entire dolphin had been inside the frame. But the others on the tour had point-and-shoot digicams and were having even worse problems.

photo photo photo

In the afternoon and evening we walked out on the rock flats around the Kaikoura Peninsula. There were plenty of seals, birds, and assorted rock pool invertebrates.

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