August 2019 Whale Watching Highlights
Auckland had a higher than average rainfall this month, but the weather didn’t stop our passengers having a good time and the Hauraki Gulf wildlife didn’t fail to amaze.
The blue whales were still hanging around at the start of the month which was great to see. We look forward to next winter to see if the blue whales come back for a third year. We also had encounters with sei whales and Bryde’s whales during this month.
As well as three species of whale, we also saw all three species of dolphin that we find here in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Common dolphins were seen feeding, bow riding and even stampeding!
Bottlenose dolphins come into the inner Hauraki Gulf during the Winter and we crossed paths with a group as we made our way back towards the Waitemata Harbour. We also found orca busy foraging further out in the marine park. All up, that made a total of six different species of cetacean (whale and dolphin) this month!
Winter is also a great time for other wildlife including New Zealand fur seals who we watched resting at the sea surface and we even saw one playing around the boat (check out our YouTube video to see it!).
The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park hosts around 20% of the world’s seabird species, some of whom choose to breed here. Australasian gannets are starting to pair up again and nest on Gannet Rock (one of the main breeding colonies in the area) in preparation for the busy breeding season ahead. We have made a few stops at the colony this month so that our passengers could see nest-building and egg-laying in action.
We also saw plenty of feeding birds such as shearwaters and diving petrels and had a rare encounter with a white-capped mollymawk. Whilst these birds can be found all around New Zealand, they actually breed in the southern ocean offshore islands such as the Auckland Islands. Mollymawks whilst not a regular sight, are a shining example of what could turn up unexpectedly during a trip!
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