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.
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!
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.
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.
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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!