July 2019 Whale Watching Highlights
We came back from our routine maintenance and reckon we could've been easily fooled for believing it to be July 2018!
1 year and 1 day after the start of the 2018 pygmy blue whale run of sightings, we had our first blue whale sighting of 2019! Given that prior to last year, we had only had a handful of blue whale sightings sprinkled amongst 17 years of safari trips, we weren’t sure whether we would get the same again this year. As you can probably imagine, we were very excited to have the past month filled with blubbery big blue whale goodness!
Blue whale surfacing in front of our passengers!
All of the data we are collecting will be sent off to Oregon State University so that we can continue contributing towards the knowledge of the NZ pygmy blue whale population.
We cannot forget the rest of our marine mammal friends from this month either – common dolphins, Bryde’s whales and even a few New Zealand fur seals.
Bryde's whale surfacing
In terms of other marine life, we also saw a mako shark and schools of kahawai fish feeding at the surface - there's heaps going on out in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park during Winter, it's possibly one of our most favourite seasons to be on the water!
A school of kahawai fish feeding on the surface (left) and a small mako shark cruises by (right)
Continuing to be great ocean ambassadors, our crew stopped to pick up rubbish of a couple of trips where it was seen and on one piece of polystyrene found these calanoid copepods – a type of zooplankton! Their blue colour comes from pigment and has been theorized to be used for recognition, UV protection and camouflage from predators.
Calanoid copepods that were found hitching a ride on some rubbish
At the end of this month, the results of the Hauraki Gulf Cetacean Research Fund 2019 round were announced by the Department of Conservation. We contribute a portion from each ticket sale towards the fund which means that when you come on safari, not only are you seeing important research data being collected at the time, but you are also helping to contribute to future research too! We are looking forward to seeing the 3 funded projects get underway to help us gain a better understanding of how we can better protect the Hauraki Gulf marine wildlife.