September 2018 Safari Sightings - Cetaceans, petrels and sunfish!
Wow, what a month for blustery weather and interesting wildlife sightings! We saw Bryde’s whales, pygmy blue whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and New Zealand fur seals over the duration of the month, as well as some unusual sightings of other marine megafauna.
On the return home on one trip, Skip and First Mate Darren caught a glimpse of a very small looking whale. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to spot it again, but based on the description of the animal from our crew and the passengers that also managed to catch the fleeting glimpse of the animal, the conclusion was drawn that it was likely a minke whale.
This was further reinforced by another fleeting glimpse of a similar sized animal in a similar area by First Mate Sarah-lyn only a couple of days later. In addition, local researchers that we have spoken to had also spotted a minke whale during a research survey in the Hauraki Gulf that same week.
Minke whales are not a common species to the area as they are a migratory species. At this time of year migratory species such as the minke whales will be passing by New Zealand as they travel south towards Antarctica for the summer.
Later on in the month, another trip saw a giant petrel and a sunfish in the same trip. Sunfish are also a rare sighting in the inner Hauraki Gulf. These animals feed on plankton and thus had likely swum into the area to feed on the abundance of plankton that there seems to be this year.