Welcome to Banks Peninsula, home of The Hector’s dolphins and eco-tourism pioneers Black Cat Cruises

Category Archives: Hector’s Dolphins

The Real Value of Hector’s

Putting the $ in Hector’$

Can you really put a dollar value on a species like Hector’s dolphins? Or should you?

Hector’s dolphin

Surely the conservation and sustainability of our only native dolphin is enough to drive the correct decisions by our government.

It turns out it’s a little more complex than that; the fishing industry has a powerful and well resourced voice that is very good at making itself heard. And they’ve come up with some very real arguments that are delaying further protection of Hector’s dolphins.

So at Black Cat Cruises, we decided to step it up see if we could provide some more information to balance the economic argument of fishing with the economic benefit derived through tourism activities. We did this for the hub of Hector’s activity which is Akaroa/Banks Peninsula because  it’s our home patch and an area we know best, but the results apply nationally.

What’s been done in the past?

There has been one attempt at putting a value on the species in 2014. An international NGO (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) commissioned a study of the preferences of New Zealanders via a survey. This was based on what is known as a ‘non-value’ use. Forgetting economic impact what would Kiwis be prepared to pay to keep the species around. How much do we care in $ terms?

This study determined values of between $355,000 and $440,000 per dolphin. This means that the estimated 130 dolphins killed every year in fishing nets represents an estimated $46 million NZD annual ‘welfare’ loss to the people of New Zealand.

Hector’s dolphins

There have been other studies globally which try and put a value on a single animal. For example in 2011, R. C. Anderson assessed the extent and economic value of manta ray watching in the Maldives. The study showed a manta ray might generate around US$100,000 in tourism dollars through a lifetime while only worth US$500 if caught and sold.

And elsewhere in NZ there have been numerous studies. Otago Peninsula has two rare marine species, the Royal Albatross and the Yellow-Eyed penguin, which attract tourists from around the world. Tisdell (2007) applied an Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) to establish the contribution of these two species to Dunedin’s regional economy.  The study found that the annual turnover of the tourism operators directly offering eco-tours was estimated to be of the order of $6.5 M and 70 full-time persons were employed in the industry. It was estimated that as a result of the eco-tourism associated with these species, approximately $100 million in GDP was generated in the Dunedin regional economy (directly or indirectly) and that 800-1000 full-time equivalent jobs were sustained.

What about Hector’s?

We appointed Market Economics to assess the economic impact of Hector’s dolphins at Banks Peninsula. You can download the 28 page report here. Importantly, we decided to measure the direct and indirect dollar impact from Hector’s dolphins tourism from international visitors only – rather than pushing it out further. This is quite a conservative approach, but accurate and dependable.

Akaroa Harbour

The report found Hector’s dolphin tourism is an important part of the Banks Peninsula economy and the wider Christchurch region.  The relatively high incidence of Hector’s means that eco-tours offer an almost guaranteed sighting on every trip. This high success is important in drawing many tourists to Akaroa, Christchurch, and to New Zealand.

In today’s terms, Hector’s eco-tourism, and the wider economic impact is estimated to range between $22M and $25M in value added which sustains the equivalent of between 473 to 530 jobs in the Canterbury economy.  The national value of Hector’s eco-tourism is estimated at between $28M and $31M in value added which sustains the equivalent of between 541 to 607 jobs in the national economy.

Black Cat Cruises at Akaroa Main Wharf

In addition, looking at regional disbursement which is very important to NZ and to Christchurch.

64% of people rated dolphins as either very important or important in their decision to visit Christchurch in the first place. This means that the dolphins were a key decision influencer on whether to come to Canterbury at all for around 48,000 people in 2018.

In addition 45% of people rated dolphins as either very important or important in their decision to visit NZ. Clearly the viewing of native wildlife in their natural habitat is important to our international visitors and specifically seeing dolphins was a key influencer in whether to come to NZ at all for around half of our visitors. At an average spend of $3,300 per person who visits NZ, the dolphins influenced around $111M in national spend. ($3300 x 75,000 people x 45%).

Taking this into account, and our marketing position of 100% Pure, it’s also fair to assume our potential visitors expect us to be actively protecting our native dolphins. How much damage is done to our brand with headlines like this? ‘Five Hector’s dolphins killed by commercial set net’ from an article in March 2018. Or this one ‘Three Hector’s dolphins killed in net off Canterbury coast’ from February 2019.

Not all about the numbers

Clearly the protection of a species like Hector’s dolphin is more important than dollars but it’s important to assess these numbers when looking at the economic impact on fisheries. The tourism industry has grown substantially in the 10 years since the Hector’s threat management plan was last assessed (and yes that also comes with its challenges).

We’re calling on the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation to take the tourism economic impact of Hector’s into account when assessing further protection for our dolphins. If the above numbers balance off against those from fishing, then the argument becomes solely about conservation – and that’s an easy one to win!

How you can help!

The Hector’s and Māui dolphins Threat Management Plan is coming up for review and we have a small window of time to help. We are calling on our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to put much needed better protection in place for these endemic and endangered dolphins. We want to see protection for them out to 100 metres in depth to protect their habitat and the species from extinction.

THE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR DOLPHIN

New Zealand’s own dolphin

By any measure Hector’s dolphins are a very special animal. Not only are they the smallest dolphin in the world, they are also the only one native to New Zealand. They’re as kiwi as the kiwi. If that is not enough, just like New Zealanders, they are very friendly, often investigating boats and people in the water.

So beloved are the dolphins, that an industry has sprung up to take people out to see or swim with them. Much of the Hector’s activity is based in the beautiful sheltered harbour of Akaroa. Black Cat Cruises was the first operator in 1985 and with other operators its estimated around 1 million people have seen Hector’s dolphins in the last 33 years. It’s an unrivalled and incredible setting to appreciate these very special dolphins and without exception people who see these dolphins form a connection.

It’s estimated the Akaroa Hector’s dolphin industry generates $24.5M* a year in direct and indirect revenue with $19.5M of that for Canterbury alone. This equates to 476 jobs (419 in Canterbury) The dolphins are the must do attraction in Akaroa and bring vital tourism dollars to the region. Nearly $100M in the last 4 years. Plus when asked how important was a dolphin tour to the decision to visit New Zealand, over 45% stated it was either important or very important; indicating the nature experience is a key factor in choosing to come to New Zealand.

But there’s a problem.

Set Net drownings

Hector’s are also one of the world’s rarest dolphin species. It’s estimated there are somewhere between 8000 to 15000 Hectors left – fewer than 30% of their original population. And their close cousin, the North Island Maui dolphin has just 55 individuals. The situation is so dire that in 2017 the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) named the two species in their threatened and endangered species list. You know it’s bad when the Americans are calling us out…

So what’s happening? The greatest threat to the Hector’s dolphins is getting caught and drowned in set nets. As their name suggests, fishers drop the net to the ocean floor and come back later to pull it up. Unfortunately the net is very difficult for a dolphin to detect and they drown if caught.

It’s not that New Zealand has done nothing. In 1988 the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal sanctuary was put in place which introduced some fishing restrictions especially around set netting in the area. At first glance this sounds like a great move but if you look at the details it provided only a modicum of protection and was far from the ‘sanctuary’ it pretended to be. In 2008 more protection was added by extending the boundaries.

However today there is the crazy situation where nets can still be set in and around Banks Peninsula in areas where the dolphins are known to range. Commercial set netting occurs from 4 miles out to sea and flounder nets can be set in Akaroa Harbour from April to October.

In recent years this led to the very sad (and totally unacceptable) situation in March 2018 where

5 dolphins were killed in one set net off the Canterbury coast. And in Akaroa Harbour where a dolphin drowned in 2015. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Compounding the problem is that these dolphins only breed once every 2-3 years. So any death in the population is very hard to replace. Its thought the dolphin population is slowly reducing by 1% per year.

Solution – no more set nets

Right now the NZ government is formulating a plan for discussion. The ‘Threat Management Plan’ is due for release in 2019 and will take a scientific look at the current rate of kill and what, if anything, should be done about it.

To us it’s very clear that set netting no longer has a place for NZ fishing. We need better protection for Hectors around the South Island from all set netting – in the areas they range. Studies have shown whilst they are an ‘in-shore’ dolphin, they also range out to sea as much as 25 miles; though the range is more dependent on the depth of the water. Hector’s don’t tend to fish in water deeper than 100M.

We’re seeking to ensure the Banks Peninsula Sanctuary is a safe place for dolphins. We want to see an all year ban of set netting in the harbours, plus an extension of the commercial ban out to 100m depth (around 20 miles). In addition an extension of the sanctuary up and down the South Island. Only this will bring true haven status to the waters of Banks Peninsula.

Not only is that our responsibility as Kaitiakitanga or good guardians, but also it makes good economic sense. The dolphin industry supports an entire sector – literally hundreds of jobs (directly and indirectly) in Canterbury alone and millions of dollars. Commercial set netting accounts for just a handful around Banks Peninsula.

The benefits are clear – protection of one of our most special natives, protection of an entire industry and jobs and economic benefit for NZ.

This  is an urgent problem with a simple solution.

Come on New Zealand, we can do better than this.

 

* GDP – value added spend on day of travel. M.E Consulting ‘Hector’s dolphin eco-tourism economic impact assessment. November 2018.

Hector’s Dolphin Research: Scientific Gizmos Galore

By Tom Brough;

Whilst this strange ‘summer’ weather still limits some of our boat work in the more remote areas of Banks Peninsula, our research teams have been making the most of good weather windows and getting some solid work done.

We’ve been retrieving and redeploying devices called TPODs that are permanently moored around the Peninsula (see picture). At present we have 11 TPOD’s moored around the peninusla, from Birdlings Flat to Lyttelton and everywhere in between. We bought these around 10 years ago for the price of around $3,000 each.

These handy gadgets record the sounds of Hector’s dolphins and so can tell us about the locations on the Peninsula that the dolphins prefer.

Because dolphins make particular sounds called ‘buzzes’ when foraging, TPODs can also tell us how often dolphins are foraging in particular areas. The current deployment of TPODs has been in the water since September and have had to put up with two 10m+ swell events during the last month; causing no small about of anxiety to our researchers!

We have also been continuing out our routine photo-ID surveys of the Banks Peninsula coastline. Finding and photographing dolphins with natural marks in their dorsal fins allows us to keep tabs on the number of dolphin in the Banks Peninsula population. Occasionally, we can identify dolphins by slightly stranger means.

A dolphin we regularly see on the north side of the Peninsula, often following trawlers off Lyttelton Harbour. The dolphin is nicknamed ‘mouthy’ and for some reason seems to breathe through its mouth rather than its blowhole.

We recently published a paper on how this could occur; it being the first time this strange behaviour has been observed in the wild.

Understanding the dolphins’ habitat and the reasons they are found in particular places is one of our current research questions.

To answer this we deploy all kinds of scientific gizmos to tell us more about the areas the dolphins use more frequently.

This device (see picture), nicknamed Roberto, gives us a salinity and temperature profile of the water column as it is lowered to near the sea floor. Roberto also shows how much phytoplankton is in the water and measures dissolved oxygen. Having this kind of information allows us to understand and so better protect the important habitat of these special dolphins.

Fingers are crossed for better weather as we head into February when we will start looking at dolphin prey distribution, sediment sampling, and nutrient loads. Stay tuned!

Tom works for the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust

The New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust was launched in 1992 by researchers Associate Professors Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson, along with Trust Patron Sir Geoffrey Palmer to foster research and effective conservation of whales and dolphins in New Zealand. The Trusts long-term goal is; “To enhance the current knowledge of behavioural ecology, distribution and genetic diversity of New Zealand’s whales and dolphins and help create informed management decisions”.

Follow their work @hectorsdolphin on twitter

or on Facebook @whaledolphintrust

Don’t forget we offer Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruises every single day of the year that is protected by a Hector’s dolphin sighting guarantee, or you can come and cruise again with us for free. We donate a portion of every single ticket sale back towards the eductaion and research of Hector’s dolphins.

Akaroa; Swimming With Dolphins With Carmen Huter

International blogger Carmen Huter came to Akaroa as her last stop on her New Zealand adventure. Carmen is a wonderful blogger and photographer and kindly shared some her stunning Akaroa photographs with us…along with her thoughts on what makes Swimming With Dolphins in Akaroa so special. Being from a landlocked country myself, anything to do with open water is highly captivating to my Austrian mind. When my best friend (of over 20 years, may I add!) finally made her way over to Aotearoa, water activities took top priority. Naturally, I kept the best for last. So, on our final morning on the South Island together, Miriam gave me a puzzled look when I instructed her to pack her togs at 6amOnce aboard our Black Cat cruise, the smile on her face seemed glued on permanently. Frankly, so did mine! The beauty about looking for dolphins, especially when they’re the world’s smallest, in the wild is the excitement, the anticipation, and the reward of the unexpected. One morning, you might come across 50, the next it could be just 5. Believe me when I say, that all you need to make your heart and eyes light up is just one of these wonderfully loving beings to swim around you. For a moment, everything around me stood still. Floating in the water, I watched as the inquisitive wee dolphin had a good look around, before getting on with her (or his?) day. A moment of pure joy and serenity. Remember, no aquarium, no tank, no Seaworld can replicate the wild conditions of the sea. The sea that is home to creatures so unique and friendly, you might just never want to leave. I, for one, didn’t.“

Follow Carmen’s Instagram Here 

Follow Black Cat Cruises Instagram here

Find out more about Swimming With Dolphins with us in Akaroa here 

For complete wanderlust and travel inspiration check out Carmen’s website and follow her blog!

Thanks for visiting Akaroa, Carmen and for coming out on Akaroa harbour with us to swim with the endangered Hector’s dolphins.

We also loved your shots from around our French Village..and look forward to seeing where you travel to next. Bon Voyage!

Hector’s Dolphin Research; Best Summer Day So Far……

World leading marine mammal experts Professors Steve Dawson and Liz Slooten are currently in Akaroa carrying out Hector’s Dolphin research. They have given us an exclusive sneak peak into what daily life is like for them on the peninsula….

”After a summer of unstable weather, the day has dawned calm and sunny, and promised to stay that way. We hit the water soon after seven, and head out of the harbour towards Birdlings Flat, where Banks Peninsula meets the Canterbury plains.

Our aim is to cover the south coast, so we barely slow for the dolphins we see in Akaroa harbour. Once at the heads, we’re “on effort” travelling at a slow planing speed in our 6.6m rigid-hulled inflatable, and stopping for any dolphins we see.

It’s flat calm. Virtually no swell, and perfect sighting conditions. The first group, off Squally Bay, is diffuse – spread over a couple of hundred metres. They’re busy – feeding, but still coming over to the boat occasionally. With them is a large bunch of spotted shags. The dolphins and shags are diving steeply, probably for the same prey. There’s a dark mark on our echsounder showing a dense prey aggregation at 15-20m deep. The dolphins prey mostly on small fish – surprisingly small, in fact most fish taken are only a few cm long.

Identifying Hector’s Dolphins

We are here to photograph dolphins that have individually distinctive natural marks – usually nicks from the dorsal fin. We use these like tags, they tell us who is who, and of course who goes where, with whom. More importantly resightings tell us how often females breed (every 2-3 years), and how long the live (25-30 years). Indeed monitoring change in survival rate is the main way that we keep tabs on whether the poplation is doing okay. These dolphins had a very tough time in the 1970s and 80s, when many hundreds were caught in gillnets and trawls. Thanks to inshore restrictions on these fishing methods, they are doing much better now, but still too many are caught for the population to recover. The population is about a third of its original size.

The next few groups also have shags in attendance, and are busy feeding. There have been only a few marked dolphins so far, but we manage to get their pictures. Dolphin photo-ID is a bit like photographing sport. The dolphins move quickly and erratically, and the dorsal fin is above the surface for about a second. If you haven’t had your coffee, you’ll miss the shot.

Since the dolphins are often found very close inshore, we go into each of the small bays. In one of the bays, we find a shag behaving oddly. Mostly, they fly off when you get close. But this one was preoccupied. It had caught a decent-sized banded wrasse, and spent the next several minutes trying to swallow it. Successfully! Noteably, it didn’t fly off, instead it slowly swam to shore. I doubt it could have flown at all.

 

The next few dolphin groups are harder to work with. They’re in stealth mode, not really very interested in the boat. When close, they seem to like to surface at bad angles – we need our pictures to be side-on. Our strategy here is to stop, and have a break. Often, they’ll get curious and come over. So far we have pictures of several individuals with rather subtle marks, but this way we get the picture of the best ID of the day. It’s a dolphin we’ve known since 2007, when we noted (from its size) that it was then at least 2 years old. So it’s 12 or 13 years old now – about 40 in human years. We don’t know what caused the large cut in its dorsal fin, but this mark has not changed in a decade.

The number of dolphins we see on these alongshore surveys is very variable. Small changes in distribution, as they follow their food around, mean that some days we can see 200 or so, but the next day, just a few. While Hector’s dolphins have small home ranges for a dolphin, they still move around over tens of kilometres. That’s why we measure population change via measuring survival rate.

We eventually get to Birdlings Flat, at the base of the Peninsula. We turn for home, about 19 nautical miles away (35km). It’s still flat calm. It’s been a great day. Now we go back to sort out the data and get prepped to do it all again.”

Prof Steve Dawson & Prof Liz Slooten

Winter Whales in Akaroa

As an eco-tourism operator in Akaroa who for the longest time has spent decades taking customers out every single day to view the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin the Hector’s dolphin (also known as New Zealand dolphin as they are only found in our waters) we must say that we too gasp with joy when we have the opportunity to spot a pod of whales with our customers.

Humpback whales akaroa new zealand On occasion we will have pods of Orca pass by and during the winter if we are very lucky we may see a humpback whale or two as they migrate north past New Zealand from their summer feeding grounds off Antartica, in search of warmer tropical shores closer to the equator, for breeding.

This past month we have been lucky enough to witness 10 sightings on our daily Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise trips….and boy have the whales been playful. Splashing their flukes (tails), breaching and rolling (scientists aren’t completely sure why they display breaching behaviour. It is thought it may be to clean pests for the whales skin…or simply just for fun). It is believed that the whales may be spending longer here this winter as the water temperature has been a few degrees warmer. It’s apparently one of the warmest winters New Zealand has had in the last 107 years!

youtube akaroa whale video

Our skipper Julian captured some exclusive footage for us to share with you. He’s been working the seas for 18 years and this July has provided him with the best sightings he has ever had during his whole career. We also managed to capture these great photos by way of our awesome crew members Helen and Krystal….

You’ll see from the video and pictures that they grow very large…up to 13m in fact, with an adult male weighing up to 36,000kg.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_eo94DEk0E

 

Akaroa whales New Zealand

Safety Tip: It’s extremely important as a skipper, whether you’ve been driving a boat for 18 years or 18 months that we all observe safe practices when viewing wildlife. For example when we view whales we remain at least 50m from them, and should they approach the boat breaking this distance barrier we ensure to stop the engine and wait for them to pass by. We ask that you do the same and educate others when at sea in order to keep wildlife viewing safe for both ourselves and these amazing mammals.

For breaking wildlife and akaroa news make sure you follow us on Facebook!

If you love the footage pop over to our website’s photography gallery for more images or to our wildlife page on whales.

WHlae fluke akaroa new zealand

 

If you’d like to learn a little more about their migration habits and what’s being done to understand their population numbers here’s a great article by National Geographic explaining  The Humpback Highway. https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/the-humpback-highway/

 

Thanks for reading our story. We hope to see you out on the water with us soon!

Best wishes from all of the team at Black Cat Cruises!

This Must Be Underwater Love

Black Cat Cruises is the only company in the world that I have taken a day off as holiday to spend….at work!

Well I mean when your company is an eco-toursim operator that offers world class dolphin cruise’s and swimming in the wild with the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin’s set in an extinct volcainc crater…wouldn’t you?

I’ve told friends and colleagues this before much to their amusement and understanding…and it seems it’s not just me at Black Cat that does this.

Last week our dolphin swim skipper Julian arrived at work extra early to join our early morning Swimming WIth Dolphins trip as a guest.

He bought along his GoPro to snap some pictures as he knows first hand how many awesome pictures our photographers and guests can get when out on the water with us.

Julian managed to snap a lot of his pictures underwater and they are pretty darn good…so good we thought we’d give you a little sneak peak at them…..we hope you enjoy them and if you do leave Julian a little comment below 🙂

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The Hector’s dolphins are one of the most playful and enquisitive oceanic species of dolphin

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Here’s looking at you…

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Bathing in sunlight just below the surface as a swimmer looks on from the right hand corner.

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Typically Hector’s swim in pods of between 2 – 12 however can come together to group in 100 at any one time

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The have distinct white bellies (similar to that of an orca)….

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and black rounded dorsal fins that remind us of a Mickey Mouse ear. Can you spot the second dolphin in this image?

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Julian making the most of his day before heading to work…on the boat in the background 🙂

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You can see just how close a Hector’s Dolphin can swim up to you in this picture as it cruises past a swimmer who is treading water. As one of New Zealand’s first ever eco-tourism operators and a certified SMART and DOC approved operator we ensure that our staff educate our guests on how to behave when encountering the dolphins in the wild. We do not track, feed, chase and touch them. We allow them to come to us on their terms and in their time. Its part of the magic of being allowed into their world and experiencing something extremeley special and unique.

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Dolphins, just like us humans, need air to breathe, The biggest threat to their species population is getting caught in fishing nets. We donate a portion from every dolphin swim and nature cruise towards the education and research of Hector’s dolphins to help save them from extinction.

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The image below is possibly one of our favourite shots. Taken just below the surface of the ocean you can see by the bend in the Hector’s dolphins tail that it’s about to take a dive…

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FIRST ENDANGERED HECTOR’S DOLPHIN CALF OF THE SEASON SPOTTED IN AKAROA HARBOUR, BANKS PENINSULA

he next generation of the world’s rarest dolphin species has been captured in photos and on video!

See our exclusive images and video content below….

International passengers from the cruise ship Dawn Princess who were on a Black Cat Cruises, Akaroa Harbour cruise or Swimming with Dolphins cruise were delighted to spot the first Hector’s Dolphin calf of the season yesterday (Sunday 29 November).Baby Hectors dolphin calf and mother by Krystal

Black Cat Cruises Sales & Marketing Manager Natasha Lombart says the crew spotted four adults and a baby calf in the upper harbour near Wainui.

Image by Crew member Krystal“Seeing dolphin calves is brilliant, as Hector’s Dolphins are endangered so it is a real thrill for both our crew and passengers to spot the first baby this season.

“We are always so excited when calves are spotted as Hector’s Dolphins are classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Because of their coastal habitat and slow reproductive rate they are particularly vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear, especially gill nets, so spotting the first calf today is a real milestone.”

Black Cat Cruises skipper Julian Yates said four adult Hector Dolphins were spotted in lovely clean water at Wainui and as they moved around they realised that a baby calf was with them.

“ The calf looked around just four weeks old, you can tell their age by the folds in their skin which help indicate how young the calf is, ” says Yates.Hectors dolphin with folds on skin by Helen

“Most of our passengers on both of our cruises today were international guests from the Cruise Ship so they were really excited to see such a rare species of new born baby. It was a real treat and so delightful. The dolphins were really friendly and kept coming up to the boat.”

Females usually have one calf every two to three years. The calves are 50 to 60 centimetres long at birth and stay close to their mothers who provide them with milk and protection for about a year until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Hector’s Dolphins are among the most endangered dolphins in the world.

 

Akaroa rare wildlife encounter by TimmyThe company has just celebrated 30 years in business and huge growth in passenger numbers over that time. In its first year in 1985 Black Cat carried less than 3,000 passengers but that annual number is now over the 3.5 million mark.

The operator is adding extra services for the summer months at a time when Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) chief executive Tim Hunter predicts tourism numbers into Canterbury could hit record levels.

“Canterbury, particularly in terms of international visitors, will probably have a record number this year,” Hunter says.

“With the increase in the number of visitor arrivals growing at 7-8 per cent a year at the moment, and more international air services into New Zealand, it is certainly likely to be the best outcome we’ve seen for some time,” Hunter says.

This visitor growth bodes well for Black Cat Cruises.

Click below to play the exclusive video footage the team captured on Akaroa Harbour

Play dolphin video

#Akaroa…Top Tips for Instagram

Here’s our quick run down of what it is, why we love it and how to make the most of it…….

So what is Instagram?

Instagram is the leading social media platform for sharing images. When it launched back in 2010 it had 1 million followers in its first month alone, so it’s no surprise that it’s become so very, very popular. Anyone can set up an account. Simply download the @instagram app onto your phone, register with your user name (for example we are @blackcatcruises) and voila…you are ready to go.

bingsamo photograph of hectors dolphins pod in Akaroablackcatcruises hectors dolphin imagedoggovtnz rangers at work within the marine reserveFrancis akaroa snaphylahyla akaroa montagewill herbie in Akaroa

Why use it?

We love using it to showcase our akaroa wildlife, peninsula scenery and behind the scene pics, however it’s also a great platform to view amazing photography and images. Whatever your interest, hobby or passion Instagram most likely has a # for it!

Tips and Tricks?

Recently the team at Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism  (@christchurchnz) held a networking event where they invited expert instagrammer Lauren Bath (@laurenpbath) to share her Instagram tips and tricks. With 443,000 followers Lauren sure knows a thing or two about taking great pics and making instagram work for you….here are her top tips…

1) Content

The quality of your content will directly affect the traffic to your Instagram

page. Attempt to post only the highest quality photo or video that you are

capable of producing and use editing tools to polish them, even if they’re just mobile applications like “Snapseed”. At the very least most images should be cropped square, straightened and colour adjustments made.

2) Consistency

Be very consistent with your Instagram habits. Be consistent with the quality

of your posts. Main points to consider regarding consistency

* How many times you post per day (I recommend 2-4 but separate each post by at least 3 hours)

* How much you engage when you are on the platform, give back!

* Keep the quality and style of your content consistent

3) Personality

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Write interesting captions that share a little of your personality and story.

4) Use Hashtags

Use a relevant group of hashtags and I recommend using between 20-30 per post. Very important : Don’t use these hashtags in your caption. Create a note of hashtags and paste these into a comment box BELOW your caption. Keep on top of the hashtags that are relevant to you and popular, resist using hashtags like #follow4follow. I use a combination of popular travel tags, feature account tags and image specific tags.

5) Engage!

Engagement is right up there with content. The more you engage with other

Instagram users the more you will see engagement come back to you. Be social, social media is a two way street! Network, like, comment,fFollow relevant accounts.

6) Bio

Make sure you have a strong profile photo and some relevant information in your bio along with a contact if you want to be easily contactable.

7) Have fun

Try to enjoy the platform and the experience. If you only use Instagram to gain followers the interactions you have aren’t organic and genuine. Share your story, share a bit of yourself and enjoy.

Black Cat Recommends

One of the most followed accounts on instagram is National Geographic with 34.9 million followers. Find them via thier hashtage @natgeo.(first image by @arni_coraldo via @natgeo)….and a few of their photgraphers @cristinamittermeier (second image below) and @paulnicklen (bottom image)

natgeochristinamittermeierpaulnicklen

 

Follow us @blackcatcruises and #blackcatcruises to share your Akaroa  and Banks Peninsula adventures with us!

Akaroa business a SMART operator

We are over the moon to be awarded the SMART operator certificate from the Department of Conservation!

Akaroa business Black Cat Cruises have become the first business in Banks Peninsula, and the second in the country, to sign up to the SMART Operator programme in an initiative developed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to increase the protection of marine mammals.

 

SMART Operators, an acronym for “Sustainable Marine Mammal Actions in Recreation and Tourism”, lead by example by committing to activities that have minimal disturbance on whales, dolphins and seals. Commercial operators are able to achieve this by undertaking staff training around the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations, guarantee responsible advertising and help educate the public about best practice boating around marine mammals.

SMART Logo col

 

DOC Ranger Derek Cox was pleased to have Black Cat Cruises as the first SMART Operator in Banks Peninsula. “Black Cat Cruises approached DOC earlier in the year requesting that we hosted the SMART training course in Akaroa, and they have now become the first SMART Operator – this really demonstrates to us that they are the right operators to be leaders in this community”.

 

“As more people want to have that special encounter with marine mammals, they are putting increasing pressure on them, potentially to the detriment of the very thing they love. DOC is looking for new ways of reducing this pressure and Black Cat Cruises will be able to assist with that”.

 

Black Cat Cruises Chief Executive Paul Milligan thought becoming a SMART Operator was a “no brainer”.  “We have been operating on Akaroa Harbour for 30 years now and as the largest operator on the harbour, it’s important for us to work with DOC to ensure that we minimise any impacts on our environment and the Marine Mammals we interact with, such as the endangered Hector’s Dolphin.”

 

“The SMART Operator initiative reassures DOC that we are operating responsibly and gives our customers the confidence that we take what we do seriously and strive to be a leader in the eco-tourism space.”

Hector's dolphin akaroa harbour

 

DOC intends the SMART Operator programme to be extended around the country in the future.