February 2020 Whale Watching Highlights
This month has been a record breaker, with two rarely seen species spotted during our safaris.
We saw false killer whales (also known as pseudorca) twice this month, accompanied by oceanic bottlenose dolphins. It is uncommon for false killer whales to come into our search area AND for it to be when we are on safari.
Typically, these animals are always on the move and they can cover huge distances during the time that they spend in our coastal waters during December-May. To find out more about them, read our blog post on the Top 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About False Killer Whales.
We thought we were really lucky with this sighting – after all, it was our first sighting of this species since 2012! So, you can imagine just how excited our team were when we came across them again later on the month.
As always, we saw both the resident common dolphins and Bryde’s whales on our trips. Check out this photo one of our crew members took of common dolphins bow riding a Bryde’s whale, they even managed to capture the rainbow that the whale produced when it came up to breathe!
NZ Storm Petrel sighting
To top off our rare sightings, we also had our first recorded sighting in 20 years of a New Zealand storm petrel. The NZ Storm Petrel has a fascinating story. Scientists believed it was extinct until 2003, when a group of bird watchers photographed one from the Coromandel Peninsula in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. It took another two years to get a close up view of one, when it landed on the boat of a recreational fisherman (who also had experience in conservation).
In 2011, a sighting of a New Zealand storm petrel with plant material stuck to its leg gave the first evidence that this species was likely breeding somewhere in the northern region of New Zealand. Finally, in 2013, tracking the birds confirmed that they are breeding on Little Barrier Island, right here in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
We are now heading into the autumn season and are looking forward to seeing what we will see in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park over the coming months!