Doug and Monique helping Amy put the boat in.
Tracking From the Boat

The day dawned quite clear so we were away from the house by 7:30 a.m. to get the boat. The boat is called "Punua Aihe" which means "Little Dolphin." We headed off for South Bay to launch the boat from the trailer.

It was great to be out on the water and able to see the dolphins close up. They swam under and around the boat. We began plotting the transect lines. These are like a grid on water drawn by the GPS instrument. The grid lines tell Amy the location of the dolphins on a marine map. I will send you a print out of one so you can see what it looks like and how it works.

We also check "environmental" conditions such as water temperature, wind speed, swell or wave size, against the longitude and latitude lines.

Here are the dolphins we found!
When we find dolphins we follow them and record their group size, the way they behave, what age groups there are (calves, young ones, or adults). Amy then takes photos of their dorsal fins as these are the way they are identified.

We also saw some New Zealand Fur Seals on the rocks and in the water, and lots of birds. The birds included Blackbrowed Albatross, The Giant and Westland Petrel, Cape Pigeon, Australasian Gannets, Huttons, and Bullers, Shearwaters, Pied and Black Shags, black Backed Gulls and Terns.

We took turns recording information on the data sheets, driving the boat alongside the dolphins so that Amy could take ID photos, and being "dolphin lookouts."

We arrived back at about 5 p.m. and again we needed to clean down the boat with fresh water, clean all the equipment — camera, thermometer, and GPS tool, and record all the data into the computer. A really exciting day! What will tomorrow bring?