Thursday, February 19, 2009
Swimming With Dolphins - AWESOME!
When we first got to New Zealand, I saw a brochure for something that said, “Swimming With Dolphins”. It was where you got to swim with the tiniest dolphins on Earth: The Hector Dolphin. They're a little smaller than I am right now, and I am pretty tiny, and just about as wide. Just like a lot of other animals out there, The Hector Dolphin is endangered. There are only about 6000 – 7000 of them left and they're all located off the east coast of New Zealand. I didn't think we'd get to do it , but there we were in Akaroa (a town a little ways outside of Christchurch) standing on the main wharf, with wet suits, booties, and snorkeling gear.
There were only ten people in our group as they don't want too many people in the water with the dolphins. It makes them feel crowded. We took a fairly big catamaran out of the harbour and sailed until we reached the end of the harbour. On the way out there, we saw seabirds called Cormorants, and three White Flippered Blue Penguins – also the tiniest penguins in the world.
The Hector Dolphin likes murkier waters so we went out to the churned up part. Our guide told us to lookout for a dorsal fin just above the water but that was very hard because there was a lot of seaweed that could easily pass as dorsal fins.
We finally saw two dolphins. They were playing in the waves that the
front of the boat was making. The Hector Dolphin is not only tiny, but cute!!!!!! They really like to play and when we got into the water, our guide told us to make noises with our snorkel under water. It was really exciting!!!!!!! They were swimming really near us and would circle around you! The water was very cold though and so I shivered the whole time. We never got to use the snorkeling gear since the water was so murky – you wouldn't be able to see anything! After about five minutes, we got back into the boat and headed around the wide open ocean looking for the tiniest, rarest dolphin in the world. We didn't get to swim with them anymore, but from far away we saw one jump in the air! On the way back, we cruised near the rocks and took a look at the seal colony there. We saw one pup nursing!
Swimming With Dolphins was truly amazing!