Jeff Clarke Ecology

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Swimming with the Hector's Dolphins in Akaroa had been truly euphoric, so I was keen to repeat the exercise with the famous Dusky Dolphins of Kaikoura. Adele and I joined an early morning excursion with Dolphin Encounter and before long we had found a large pod of Duskies.

We plunged into a 1000ft of water, though as I was snorkeling without weights I could barely get more than a few feet below the surface due to the buoyancy of my wetsuit. Before long I was engulfed by dolphins. This was one of their first big pods of the year with over 300 dolphins around us. Barely a few seconds would go by when one or more were not fizzing around you, clicking and whistling as they went.

To keep their attention you needed to stay active. I sang them songs though my snorkel and talked to them. It seemed to work very well as many of them would circle tightly around me for up to 30 seconds or more.

It is an endless thrill to be surrounded by such beautiful and fascinating animals. You are there on their terms. If they want to play, they do, if not they go on their way. It is entirely their choice.To see such intelligent, sentient and free-spirited creatures in captivity is a travesty. I would discourage anyone from swimming with captive dolphins, but swimming with wild dolphins in properly operated circumstances is something different. A life changing and life affirming experience and one that I encourage everyone to undertake at least once in their lives. A simply unforgettable and emotionally uplifting encounter!

Later that day we joined Whale Watch Kaikoura, another very professional outfit, to enjoy the leviathan Sperm Whales that frequent the area. When that big tail comes up, deluging water as it goes, camera shutters fire off like crackling fireworks. Beaming smiles all around and a fitting end to our time in Kaikoura.

All the images in this blog are copyright Jeff Clarke 2013 (unless otherwise stated)
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