Every year Black Cat Cruises join in with the national celebration of Seaweek.
Seaweek is an opportunity to celebrate connecting with our seas….and what better way than instilling that connection with our youngest generation from the very start? So read on and discover the link to our free live concert…and our brand new book dedicated to non other than the wee Hector’s Dolphins.
ITS ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC…
You may or may not know that last year we worked with local legend Music With Michal – a fantastic performer who writes and sings fun and (very) catchy tunes for little kids. Michal not only performed some Seaweek themed concerts on our boat, but we also asked her to write a wonderful song dedicated to the Hector’s Dolphins. It was soooo good we even made a wee music video.
Thanks to Michal and her super talented friend illustrator Andy Knopp the song has been turned into a fantastic children’s book which is now available for pre-order.
we are hosting a Live from Lyttelton free & streamed concert with Music With Michal.
JOIN THE SEAWEEK LIVE STREAM ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 9TH STARTING AT 9.30AM UNTIL 10AM WITH THIS LINK
This wonderful new book is available on the Black Cat website and priced at $22.
$2 from every book printed goes to the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust. So in turn we are not only offering education but we are able to further support scientific research and protection for New Zealand’s native and endangered dolphin, the Hector’s Dolphin.
KIWI OF THE SEA – HECTOR’S DOLPHIN
If you’d like to check out the Hector’s Dolphin song you can watch the video right here… Share this with your friends and family who have a little one 🙂
Another great way for little ones to get involved is by becoming a Protect Hector’s member. Membership includes a personalised certificate, Hector’s fact sheet and a plush Hector’s dolphin toy. Memberships are just $30 and available to purchase directly from our website here
Find out more about Seaweek events visit the website www.seaweek.org.nz
To find out more about Music With Michal visit her website www.musicwithmichal.com
Book a cruise to see the Hector’s Dolphin visit here – use code SEAWEEK2022 to receive a 20% discount. Remember under 5’s travel for free, and we have a fantastic dolphin guarantee policy 🙂
Follow on Instagram @nzaeeseaweek @musicwithmichal
Today, October 4th is World Animal Day. It has become an internationally celebrated day to support animal rights and welfare and we are celebrating the Hector’s dolphin.
How World Ocean Day Started
The very first World Animal Day took place nearly 100 years ago on March 24, 1925, in the Sport Palace in Berlin, Germany. More than 5,000 people attended the first event, however today the movement is now celebrated worldwide. It was originally founded by writer and animal activist Heinrich Zimmermann, author of Mensch und Hund (Man and Dog). In 1929 the date changed to October 4. The reason was quite simple and nothing fancy…the Sport Palace in Berlin simply wasn’t available that day. And since then October 4th has been known as World Ocean Day.
As champions of Hector’s dolphins here at Black Cat Cruises we’ve included some fun facts, industry info and an opportunity to encounter our very own ‘Kiwi Of The Sea’.
Hector’s Dolphin Facts
Hector’s dolphins are the worlds rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin. They are only found around the shallow coastal waters of the South Island in New Zealand making them a very rare and special native marinemammal.
The world wildlife organisation continues to recognise Hector’s dolphins as being endangered. They are very unique in their appearance, making them very easy to identify in the ocean. Not only are they very small (reach up to just 1.4m long), they also have a rounded black dorsal fin – just like a Mickey Mouse ear, along with a grey body and white tummy, similar in style to an Orca.
There is a also subspecies of the Hector’s dolphin known as the Maui’s dolphin this is critically endangered and estimated to have a population of only 55. The Maui dolphin is only found along the western shores of the North Island of New Zealand.
Given how rare this endemic species is we coined the phrase ‘Kiwi of the Sea’ quite a few years back…and even worked with a local musician to create a song to celebrate this magnificent marine mammal. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the first video below here in this blog – we warn you though, it’s rather catchy!
Hector’s dolphin Image by Mark Kitchingham.
Hector’s Dolphin – Tiaki Promise
Check out this fantastic video that explains just why Hector’s dolphins are so important and as guardians of our environment we need to ensure we are doing our part as a tourism operator to take care of them, and the place we operate.
A great source of information for Hector’s dolphins, latest research and how you can take action can be found from the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust. Led by Professor’s Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson as featured in our short documentary above, they are the world’s leading researchers and have spent a lifetime studying and campaigning for the endangered Hector’s dolphin.
They are rarer than kiwi’s and continue to be threatened by commercial and recreational fishing
You can TAKE ACTION or find out how you DONATE via their website here.
Did you know we run a Hector’s dolphin education programme?
This 9 week curriculum level 3 programme is completely free and available to all kiwi schools and students. Our aim is to raise awareness and inspire our next generation of young kiwi’s to care for their place and it’s precious ocean inhabitants. The more we can raise awareness of the Hector’s dolphins, and how important it is that our actions allow us to work and live respectfully and sustainably together, not just for our time but for future generations to come, the better the world will be for it.
Watch this video for more info….
You can join our Protect Hector’s Team! We set up a way to donate further funds back to the education and protection of the Hector’s dolphins.
Joining the Protect Hector’s team cost just $29 and in return, as well as helping to support the dolphins, you will receive a personalised certificate, plush Hector’s dolphin soft toy and a unique fact sheet. Read more about and join our team here
One of the best ways to encounter Hector’s dolphins is on one of our Akaroa Nature Cruise. We have some great specials on our website, including a fab family pass saving over $90. You’ll spend two hours cruising with us through the volcanic cliffs of majestic Akaroa harbour. Take in the sights, sounds and fascinating facts from significant Maori history, awe-inspiring geology, and wonderous wildlife. We often see a range of Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand Fur seals, coastal birds and more. Free tea and coffee are served from our downstairs bar area, and under 5’s cruise for free. We also offer a Hector’s Dolphin viewing guarantee with every booking, all year round. If you don’t see a dolphin (just a 2% chance) you can come and cruise with us again for free! Akaroa is also a wonderful place to explore on the stunning Banks Peninsula. It’s just a 90 minute drive from Christchurch so makes for a great day trip, weekend escape or longer.
We are an officially permitted by the Department of Conservation. As a SMART operator we adhere to DOC’s guidelines to operate in a safe, responsible and sustainable way with our marine environment and marine inhabitants.
SMART operators are leaders in sustainable marine mammal viewing through intensive staff training, responsible advertising, and education.
We are also the only cruise operator in Akaroa to be rated as Qualmark Gold, in addition we also hold the Covid Clean Approved accreditation from Qualmark. This means that our operations, training, staff and overall experience is of the highest standard. In addition we are current winners of the Tourism New Zealand award for Conservation and previous winners for Business Excellence.
Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan
In order to ensure the long-term survival of these undique marine mammals the Ministry for Primary Industries have an active threat management plan in place. Black Cat Cruises were actively involved in advocating for better protection and support for the dolphins in 2019. You can see some of our work here. In 2020 there was a revision of the plan.You can view a PDF copy of the latest plan here
#worldanimalday #hectorsdolphin #wildandfree #akaroa
Learn about the Hector’s dolphin both on and off the water…….
Did you know that we can now provide a free Education Programme focused on Hector’s dolphin to all Kiwi schools and students thanks to all of our customers.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU……
The education programme is available nationwide so if you know of any teachers that may like to find out about this please share this blog post with them!
ENQUIRE / BOOK
Kids cruise free in Akaroa these April school holidays with us at Black Cat Cruises*.
We are setting sail every day, twice and day and you and the whole whanau are invited!
Join us in Akaroa for our multi-award winning Akaroa Nature Cruise. Cruise through a majestic extinct volcanic crater on board our large double decker catamaran.
As we cruise through this geological wonderland we’ll go in search of native wildlife such as the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin, the Hector’s dolphin, along with New Zealand Fur Seals, Little Blue Penguins, and many types of coastal birds. With unimpeded 360 degree viewing platform, a large inside cabin complete with free tea and coffee for mum and dad and coloring activities for kids, this is a wonderful way to spend a few hours of your holiday.
Each cruise lasts two hours, and we even offer a Hector’s dolphin guarantee. If you don’t see a dolphin you can cruise again for free!
Simply book directly with us online.
When booking use code FREEKIDS to receive your discount
*1 free child per full paying adult
Hi guys, we hope you are all keeping safe and well.
Over the last month here at Black Cat we’ve taken time to pause, take a deep breath and connect with family and friends either in our bubble or online. We’ve also been busy working on projects so that when the time is right we can safely return to cruising the waters in Akaroa and Lyttelton.
During this time we also reached out to a long standing friend of ours, marine mammal and Hector’s dolphin expert Professor Liz Slooten. We’ve worked alongside Professor Slooten since we first started operating back in 1985. She is a wealth of knowledge and true champion and advocate for New Zealand’s endemic and endangered dolphin.
Black Cat Cruises Skipper Julian Yates jumped online to have a good chat with Liz about life as a marine mammal scientist and her experiences in the field, along with many other important topics including the current estimate of the Hector’s dolphin population.
We can’t wait to get back out on the water with you all when it is safe to do so.
In the meantime stay safe, be kind and have a watch below…..
We have also created a short edited version for those that may like to watch….
We’ve unlocked the mystery behind the recently released Threat Management Plan (from here in we’ll call it the TMP). It’s a very complex document which will bamboozle and confuse the average New Zealander. And even some of the best brains in this space took many hours to understand it!
The TMP outlines recommendations to the Ministers’ of Conservation and Fisheries for further protection of Hector’s and Māui dolphins.
It’s a once in 20 year chance to make a positive impact on our precious native dolphins. Government is now calling for public submissions on the plan by 19th August 2019.
We’ve analysed the document from a Banks Peninsula perspective (sorry we did not look at proposed changes outside of Canterbury).
4 Things You Need to Know
- The TMP will allow up to 49 Hector’s dolphins to be caught in nets per year off the East Coast of the South Island of NZ. Apparently this is acceptable because we can let that many drown, and the population will recover to become thriving again! We don’t think that a plan that calls for one dead dolphin a week is acceptable.
- Option 3, the best scenario for the dolphins proposes protection north and south of Banks Peninsula but leaves a huge unprotected hole near Akaroa. We’ve called this the ‘death zone’. This will force fishermen currently operating in Pegasus Bay and Timaru to fish off Akaroa creating an even worse situation than today for the local dolphin population.
- Given the above, it seems to ignore the vital economic value created by Hector’s dolphins off Akaroa. The total estimated economic value from set netting is $3.5M and trawl fishing is $8.7M per year in the South Island. (there is no information of how these numbers were derived). Eco-tourism drives $25M per year for Banks Peninsula alone. The proposed option 3 changes reduces fishing revenue by just $170,000 per year in Pegasus Bay and $870,000 in South Canterbury. A small amount compared to the tourism benefits. Further extension to close the ‘death zone’ will also have very minor economic impact.
- The TMP is silent on allowing flounder nets inside Akaroa and Lyttelton during the winter months. It’s therefore proposing for this to continue placing risks for the dolphins in the upper harbours. We know for sure dolphins have been caught in these nets recently. Here’s a press article discussing it.
Where are the Dolphins?
The death zone has been justified in the TMP because sightings are seemingly lower off Akaroa. This is simply incorrect and goes against everything we know about the dolphins.
There are many dolphin sightings in the death zone as mapped out below using data from many surveys since 2002.
The TMP has tried to model the habitat of dolphins using a number of assumptions. One is related to public sightings; clearly there aren’t many recreational boats 10 miles off the Akaroa heads! The second is related to water clarity. They have assumed where the water is quite clear, there aren’t many dolphins. This is pretty bad science given the sighting data we have from Otago University.
The Hector’s population around Banks Peninsula is the largest in NZ. The TMP says, therefore it’s OK for many to die in nets. A scenario that’s not acceptable and is completely at odds with our international brand position.
The dolphins face many threats around our national coast lines. Some other sub populations may not survive meaning the Banks Peninsula population has to be strong and thriving. There is no room for set nets. The TMP calls for the BP population to recover to 80% of its carrying capacity (ie best case population) whereas the stakeholder working groups all agreed that 90-95% was more appropriate.
Toxo is a Red Herring
A brief note on Toxoplasmosis which features in the TMP. This is a disease probably contained in cat poo (yes) washing into rivers with the dolphins somehow ingesting enough to kill them. There have been some dead dolphins examined on beaches with toxoplasmosis being the most likely final cause of death. This may be an issue for the dolphins or may not. We simply don’t have enough reliable information.
We know right now 100% that nets are killing dolphins and we have the chance to deal with it today. Toxo is forgive the pun a complete red herring. For this to be included as major threat (and greater than fishing) in the TMP is a significant issue and calls into question the whole integrity of the process.
When is a Sanctuary Not a Sanctuary?
The TMP proposes to expand the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary out to 20 miles and further up and down the coast, which at a quick read sounds like good news. However we need to be clear that the sanctuary only provides protection for non-fishing threats such as restrictions on seismic surveying and seabed mining. The TMP contradicts itself by calling for non-fishing protection out to 20 miles (ie accepting there are dolphins in this range to be protected), but then allowing fishing within the sanctuary by seemingly saying there are few dolphins in the range.
How Can You Help?
Please help the dolphins by emailing this address email@example.com. outlining your concerns about the situation above.
- A plan calling for one dead Hector’s dolphin a week is not acceptable.
- The death zone off Banks Peninsula is not acceptable. We need net bans all around the peninsula where the dolphins range including in the area off Akaroa Heads.
- Expand the netting ban to include flounder nets in the upper harbours from April to Sept.
- Support option 3 of the plan around Canterbury BUT with further extensions out to 100m in depth.
- Support the TMP proposal for a larger marine mammal sanctuary to protect against mining and other non fishing threats in future.
Submissions close Monday 19 August 2019.
At the end of the consultation period, DOC and Fisheries New Zealand will analyse your submissions and present them to the Ministers of Fisheries and Conservation for their decision.
A team from Black Cat Cruises and the Department of Conservation recently swam across Akaroa Harbour from Tikao Bay to Akaroa Main Beach, to help raise awareness for the protection of the Hector’s dolphin. An amazing feat for an amazing cause!
The reason behind the swim
Swimming across Akaroa Harbour wasn’t an easy task, but the team had a very worthy reason as to why they wanted to complete this epic journey – the protection of the beloved Hector’s dolphin.
Hector’s dolphins are 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 greatest threat to the Hector’s 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.
We’re seeking to ensure the Banks Peninsula Sanctuary is a safe place for dolphins. We want to see an an extension of the commercial set net ban out to 100m depth (around 20 miles). In addition an extension of the sanctuary up and down the South Island.
- Ensure the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary is a safe place for dolphins.
- Secure an extension of the commercial ban out to 100m depth (around 20 miles).
- Secure an extension of the Marine Mammal Sanctuary up and down the South Island.
The Hector’s and Māui dolphins Threat Management Plan is coming up for review shortly 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.
Send your postcard of support
Click the link and fill in your details and we will send a handwritten postcard on your behalf to the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
Putting the $ in Hector’$
Can you really put a dollar value on a species like Hector’s dolphins? Or should you?
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.
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.
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.
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.
That’s right, a whole list of free awesome things to do in Akaroa!
1. Newton’s Waterfall
2. The Akaroa Lighthouse
3. The Ōnuku Marae.
4. The Rhino Walk, Akaroa
5. Jump into Summer!
6. Akaroa Skate Park
7. Akaroa Beach
8. Akaroa Museum
9. Akaroa Playground
10. Delicious Akaroa
Speaking of ice cream did you know there’s a couple of cool spots to try some complimentary food tastings.