Day 221 on the Road
Swimming with the World’s Smallest Dolphins
Today we are swimming with Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa! If you like this video and want more awesome New Zealand bucket list inspiration then check out our epic YouTube Channel! Go on. Do it. It’s not that bad.
Today we are swimming with the world’s smallest dolphins! They’re so cute.
Today in New Zealand’s Frenchest town of Akaroa the action is on the water.
Today we’re gonna swim with one of the rarest dolphins in the world, the Hector’s dolphin. Yes, if you’re wondering, all of them are named Hector. There’s only 50 of them so it’s pretty easy it’s Hector 1, 2, Hector 50.
Our tour starts at Daly’s Wharf, where we’re joining the team from EcoSeaker. We’re meeting Adam who’s gonna be one of our guides today and he’s giving us all the gear we need to go dolphin swimming including snorkel, wetsuit, all that stuff.
The ecoSEAker vessel is quite small fitting around 12 passengers but that makes it perfect for a more intimate experience and we all gather around the front so we can listen to Adam sharing loads of knowledge about the Hector’s dolphins.
They are the smallest species of of dolphins in the world reaching to about 1 to 1.5m in length and what makes them really different as well is their curved black dorsal fin and only within 20 minutes of the tour we spot our first pod of Hector’s dolphins.
The key here is to see if the dolphins are interested in staying around the boat, if they are that means they might be interesting in sticking around when we jump into the water with them.
And it looks like these guys are interested in sticking around so after taking a few photos we’re zipping up our wetsuits putting on our snorkels and mask and making our way to the back of the boat where we take a ladder down into the water to join the dolphins.
Admittedly the water is pretty cold but the wet suits are keeping us warm and the dolphins are keeping us interested the dolphins are as curious about us as we are of them and they are coming really up-close to investigate they swim past by us they look at us with their little eye it’s really intimate experience with a dolphin it’s really cool.
Look right here I’m meeting Hector 13.
So we are having the visit today of Hector 13 through Hector 27 they are all around us surrounding us and swimming everywhere and it’s really cool to have them coming so close to us.
Adam during our briefing told us how to attract the dolphins and some cute ways to get them more interested to you.
One of the things that we need to do while being on the water is that we need to try to not be intimidating at all because they are really small. They are only between one to 1.5m that’s really tiny for a marine mammal so we are not reaching out with our arms, we are not making sudden movements we are just basically quietly swimming around or even just floating and they are the ones that come to investigate us.
But because they are really intelligent creatures, actually I believe they are the most intelligent creatures in the water right now because there is basically just them and Laura and I so we are trying to make ourselves look really interesting to them so they want to come and investigate us. So we’re trying a few different technique like swimming around in circles, but one of the things that’s really cool is tapping the surface of the water to attract them and it works like a charm they are rushing toward me as soon as I do that. it’s really cool.
And another technique that Adam tells us is to sing. It usually creates some kind of vibration in the water that attracts the dolphins and mimics their communication and every girl is trying that.
Just so you know songs from the ’80s are a real hit with the dolphins. They really like that.
As the dolphins are swimming around us and getting so close to us I can’t express how much excitement that just makes me feel it’s so amazing. We spend about 45 minutes swimming with the dolphins in the water before it’s time for us to get back onto the boat go check out some more wildlife out here on the Akaroa Harbour.
Our next wildlife viewing is the little blue penguins and just like the hector’s dolphins being the smallest species of dolphins these penguins are the smallest species of penguins. I’m so into my wildlife viewing that I don’t notice this huge wave coming and splashing all over my camera.
I need to dry my camera quickly because there’s more wildlife up ahead. We’ve just spotted a flock of albatross which are the largest seabirds in the world so we’ve gone from seeing the smallest dolphins to the largest seabirds all in one wildlife tour.
But Hector’s dolphins are a gift that keeps on giving as we are making our way to the next highlight of our tour another pod of Hectors dolphins is coming toward the boat and is playing on the bow they are playing with those pressure waves in front of the boat jumping leaping and playing around with each other it’s really fun.
Everybody is in awe of how amazing those dolphins are they are super quick they are super small they are kind of a silver arrow of the sea it’s really nice.
Although the Hectors dolphin is an endangered species the Akaroa Harbour is a real hub for them so it’s no surprise we’re seeing a couple of pods today. There are actually about 250 individuals that are visiting the harbour every single year but it’s wildlife galore today just as every pod of dolphin is leaving us we are arriving at a seal colony. There is a year-round seal colony right here on the Banks Peninsula and it looks like they are all resting after a heavy morning of fishing.
This seal colony looks like they got themselves prime real estate. They are surround by beautiful basalt columns there are beautiful white cliffs in the background turquoise waters to bathe in it’s the perfect location for a seal colony and no wander they’re thriving it’s seal pup time at the moment.
The seal pups are the active ones while the adults are the ones that are sunbathing on the rocks. There is also a shag colony nearby that are feeding on the fish that are scared by all the seals in the area.
And in no time at all we are making our way to our last stop of the day. this tour has been a really good balance between seeing wildlife in the water and seeing wildlife out of the water. And for our final stop we are heading to this really awesome cave it’s absolutely huge and it’s called Cathedral Cave it’s been carved into the cliffs by the sea.
We’re warming up with a nice hot chocolate and a biscuit chatting with our fellow tour goers before making our way back toward the Akaroa Harbour.
When I say dolphin you say swim, dolphin swim dolphin swim.