Sunday, 25 January 2015

From Hannah far, far, away!

Hello both,
So, yesterday I went out on a trip with the Auckland whale and dolphin safari in the Hauraki Gulf... After getting in touch with them a couple of weeks ago they kindly offered to take me out so I could have a chat to them about what they do and see it first hand. They're a lovely bunch and doing some great work - link to their Facebook page please if you're putting this on ours!
We saw at least 7 Bryde's whales (pronounced Brewders - I thought it was like brides, but there we are!) including a mother and very inquisitive calf. It reminded me of our Minke encounter on the Wildcat a couple of summer's ago. Pretty special. I don't think the photos do it justice; I'm no Rich Crossen, but I am hoping that one of the girls on the boat will send me some of hers through. Unfortunately didn't see any other cetaceans (not that I'm complaining, was a pretty good trip!) but they usually expect to see bottles, commons and occasionally orca. Tonnes of birds - white fronted terns, Australasian gannets, storm petrels and fluttering shearwaters in big rafts as well as plenty of gulls and shagarants.. They have loads of other shearwater and petrel species around too, as well as the occasional albatross!
4.5 hour marine mammal eco-safari in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park - right on Auckland's doorstep.
Tourist attraction: 4,118 like this.
All their research gets sent in to the Department of Conservation who are the primary organisation overseeing everything conservation related here. They also send out a message via VHF through the coastguard to all vessels in the Gulf if they come across cetacean activity. This is mainly targeted at large container ships which have caused too many whale deaths in recent years. I thought that was a brilliant move. As well as the research for DOC, they had some girls on from Massey university who are doing photo ID of common dolphins in the Gulf. So far they have 2083 individuals on their catalogue!! Rather them than me trying to match up photos...! They think there's likely to be at least 4000 animals in the area though. Interesting to see that they are using photo ID for commons. Also while I was talking to them, a couple of them (American girls) thought Sea Trust sounded familiar... Turns out they've seen our stuff on MARMAN, probably WOW courses, so that's obviously a powerful tool, you can tell Powell! Oh, and there were a couple of guys who run a company called The Media Clinic out filming using a drone - it was really really cool! They showed me a bit of footage they'd taken and edited from last time they were out and it was just AMAZING! I'll have to get you a link and send it through. The drone gets such a different perspective, and also worked well for us as we could follow it to show us where the whale was! I told them if they're ever anywhere near Wales they'd have to come out with us, one of them is dying to see a sunfish - wish I'd had that video of the skimming one last year to hand!
I'm hoping I'll get to head out with them again sometime, but not sure how much longer i'm in Auckland for. 
Hope everything's good back there, looks like you've been keeping busy! Great turnout for the supporters meeting, gave me goosebumps! 
Big hello to everyone at OLab!
Lots of love,