November 2019 Whale Watching Highlights
We could certainly tell that the seasons were changing out in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park this month!
In Spring we often see an increase in the number of ‘work ups’ in the Gulf and we certainly did in November. These are a sight to behold as several different marine species come together to feed including Common dolphins and Bryde’s whales.
Common dolphins locate small fish and ‘work’ to round them up into a bait ball. Some of the dolphins will swim around the bait ball in different directions to prevent fish from escaping whilst others will drive it up from underneath to get it as close to the sea surface as possible.
Whilst this has been happening, Australasian gannets have been flying overhead, keeping a watchful eye on the action and waiting for that baitball to come within diving range. Once it has, it’s all go and is a feast for them but also a feast for our eyes! If we’re lucky, a nearby Bryde’s whale might come lunging through to take a huge mouthful of the dolphin’s hard work.
This month we also had a couple of encounters with the New Zealand orca including on one of our fundraising trips, which saw all of our mouth’s fall open in amazement when an adult male orca breached not far from the boat! One of our passengers happened to have his camera in the right place at the right time and got this epic shot.
Our fur seal sightings were not as common as over the Winter months, which is to be expected but we did find this juvenile having a rest on a buoy not too far from Auckland Harbour.
We also paid visits to the Australasian gannet colony on some of the trips. A few months ago when we came to visit, we could only see adults getting their nests ready and incubating their eggs. This time around we could see the first of the babies to hatch – they are very cute and fluffy!