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In Pursuit of Prions Part 6

In Pursuit of Prions (Part 6) - Akaroa

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We awoke to a glorious blue sky and the majestic view of the Bank's Peninsula. The hum of mechanical machinery testified to the activity involved in lowering the ship's tenders, which we boarded shortly after breakfast to make landfall at the delightful town of Akaroa.

We were booked to travel back out with Black Cat Cruises to swim with Hector's Dolphin's but with time to explore we investigated some nearby parkland and native scrub. What was to become the familiar sound of native Bellbird's greeted our ears, this was periodically overlain by the sibilant lilting of Grey Warblers, we managed some reasonable views of both species and a few record photographs.

In late morning I donned a wetsuit and joined a handful of other dolphin swimmers. We cruised out towards the mouth of Akaroa Harbour. Before long a tell-tale rounded dorsal fin was sighted and it was time to get in the water. The final instruction was, be interesting, keep the dolphins attention.

Singing with a snorkel on is something of a challenge, but one readily accepted and as if in deference to my warblings I was duly engaged with a retinue of one of the most magical creatures on the planet. The tiny Hector's Dolphins are barely 4 feet long, virtually beakless and strikingly marked, but it is their dorsal fin which really marks them out as it is often likened to the shape of  'Mickey Mouse's' ear.

I filmed the dolphins underwater as best I could as they swirled around me and up on the boat deck Adele fired away with the SLR. Up to 12 animals were with us for nearly an hour and the song of choice was the Robbie Williams classic 'Angels'. Appropriate I thought, because after an hour I had an indelible beatific smile plastered across my face.

If you a re planning to visit New Zealand then I cannot recommend this highly enough. The water may be cold but once those dolphins join you any such thoughts are banished as you are washed over by shear joy!

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