3rd December, 2013
Summer kicks off in the Sound... FOUR SPECIES OF DOLPHIN IN ONE DAY!
As the days become warmer, Picton is beginning to buzz with that feeling of summer... and what a great start to the season it has been so far! With our great crew of Guides, Skippers and Researchers, we hit the Sounds once again.
With the warmer and longer days comes the unmistakable signs of new life with many of our species exhibiting
breeding displays and their newborn offspring. The spotted shags are showing off their beautfiul and striking breeding plumage, the little blue penguins are nesting on Motuara Island, and the dolphins are coming into the sheltered bays to calve.
With the waters in the Sound slowly warming, we begin to say good bye to our winter friends, the Dusky Dolphins, as they begin to head south to the cooler, oceanic waters. A few stragglers are still around, and have even been spotted mixing with our uncommon visitor, the Common Dolphins, with both species showing similar feeding strategies that use teamwork to school fish together to feed. These 'feeding frenzies' give us a 'National Geographic'-esque spectacle as the Australasian Gannets and Fluttering Sheerwaters also jump in on the action, taking advantage of the Dolphin's hard work.
Unusually, this year, a pod of Common Dolphins - generally a more oceanic species - have stuck around for a few weeks in the Queen Charlotte Sound, with a number of newborn calves being spotted amongst the group. The sub-adults and adults have also shown a great amount of curiosity towards the swimmers we have been placing in the water, with some truly spectacular experiences being had all around!
As the Duskies become scarcer, we also have the honour of playing host to a large number of Hector's Dolphins who reside in the Sound during the summer months. As the temperatures become warmer, we've seen more and more of these beautiful and sometimes shy endemic species of dolphin. It's hard to suppress a smile and a warm feeling inside when we spot that smooth, round dorsal fin breaking the surface of the water and the small, white body below it heading straight for the boat to say hello!
We have even had the privilage already this season of saying hi to a pod of Orca in early October. This species is rare to the Sounds, and their visits highly unpredictable... But the guides certainly find it difficult to hide their excitement when the rulers of the ocean come to pay us a visit!
So come and join us! Swim trips with the dolphins run daily each morning, and we go exploring through the Sounds and onto Motuara Island each afternoon. Ship Cove and Bird Watcher options are also available!
So what are you waiting for...?? Rain or shine... It's amazing out there!!!
Catch up with you next month......