July 2018 Sightings Roundup - The Blue Whale Bonanza!
What a month we have had on the water! If you had told us at the start of the month that we would have over 20 sightings of blue whales over the coming weeks, we wouldn’t have believed you. That in itself is the magic of not only the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park but whale watching and to a further extent, wildlife as a whole - no matter whether you have had a little or a lot of experience on water, you cannot predict anything particularly when you are on safari.
Particular highlights of the blue whale encounters include watching a cow and calf pair feeding on a pristine afternoon, getting some fluke action from that same blue whale mother and then on some afternoons being surrounded by up to 12 individuals!
Cow (mum) and calf blue whales surfacing
Some of our footage was featured in the media which you can see and read about here.
For us, blue whale sightings over the past 12 months have skyrocketed and we are assisting researchers at the Marine Mammal Institute (Oregon State University) in their work looking at these animals by contributing our photos and associated data. This data will enable them to learn more about this (relatively) newly discovered population of blue whales here in New Zealand.
Also over this month we have seen our regular Bryde’s whales who normally, make up the majority of our whale sightings. These whales are considered to be a resident species to Auckland in that they generally do not move far from marine park which therefore enables us to spot whales year-round.
Roundtop the male orca surfacing infront of our passengers
Dolphin-wise we have encountered all 3 of our regulars - the common dolphins, orca and bottlenose dolphins. Common dolphins are resident in the Hauraki Gulf year round whilst orca and bottlenose are often temporarily visiting the area as they pass through. Due to a declining North Island population, encounters with bottlenose dolphins are being restricted. As a part of our operating permit we continue collect data on this species if we cross paths with them - this allows us to continue contributing to the knowledge of this endangered species.
As we go into August we will be keeping our eyes peeled for the last of the migratory humpbacks passing by New Zealand on their northbound journey. Normally, if we do encounter humpbacks, it is often during their southbound journey but after this crazy month, who knows what we are going to see next!
Things you can do:
- Check out our July Highlights video over on YouTube
- Use the hashtag #aucklandwhale to share your safari photos and videos with us
- Vote for us in the People's Choice Category of the New Zealand Tourism Awards (you could win a mystery holiday too!)