Click here for a bigger image of a GPS printout.
A Day on the Boat

The time is going so quickly.

Monique, Romy, and I spent another day on the boat with Amy. It was a warm clear day and we were off on our search for more dolphins. After about 15 minutes we came across some small groups of mothers and 2–4 month old calves in shallow water. They seemed to be just cruising around not going anywhere special. This is called MILLING. The calves are really cute and swim and surface just like their mothers.

Suddenly several of the groups formed up together and swam off quickly coming up to breathe almost all together. Amy thought that they may have been frightened by a predator or gone looking for some casual feeding. The dolphins do most of their feeding at night time in the very deep water just off the coast. They eat lantern fish and squid which come up from the deep sea layer at night. They do feed casually during the day.

We then began to do transect lines. Amy has pre set the lines she wants to follow into the GPS and this is used to guide the boat in the right direction. This is a sample of the GPS print out. The yellow lines show our plotted course between points — the red markers. The squiggly lines show where we found and observed dolphins. The red circle is where we turned off the motor to have lunch.

Blackbrowed Albatross
We are getting so good at spotting dolphins and noticing the notches on their dorsal fins. We are almost experts. Amy took 12 rolls of film today!

While we were having lunch bobbing around 3.5 miles out we were joined by a Blackbrowed Albatross who bobbed around in the sea quite close to us.

The Blackbrowed Albatross watched us eat lunch about 3 feet from the stern of the boat. It then "ran" across the surface to get up enough speed for a graceful takeoff and glide on the air currents.

Once more we were on the lookout. We spotted a group of about 300 duskies leaping and putting on a wonderful display of acrobatics. As they leapt their white underbellies sparked and flashed in the bright sunshine. Monique counted one dolphin's leaps — there were 14. Another one did 18 double tail splashes — most impressive! And very graceful!.

Among these dolphin there were several common dolphins. These are a little bigger and have golden patches on their sides and don't seem to be as lively as the duskies. Their beak (rostrum ) is a little longer too.

We also spotted several New Zealand Fur seals in deep water rolling around in the water. They do this to get lots of air into their fur to keep warm. We also saw one seal with a fish. As the seal flipped the fish to swallow it, the seal was surrounded by gulls wanting some fish too. We couldn't get close enough for a good photo. They dove went we got too close.

As we completed on of our transect lines near the shore we spotted the shore team High on Otu Matu Point.

Otu Matu Point
In the photo to the right Otu Matu Point is at the top of the big triangle of clear ground right next to the trees. They use this point because they know the exact height from sea level for tracking using the theodolite (survey instrument). You can see a long way out into the bays.

We completed all the transect lines for the day and headed for home ahead of some heavy rain clouds. We washed the boat down and headed for home after refuelling. The data collected has to be put into the computer after tea. Another great day!