The canyon didn’t rest today with marine animal interactions throughout. Heading into the canyon we first came across a pod of Common dolphins riding alongside our vessel before following in the wake. They porpoised right out of the water playfully as we made our way into the canyon. Dropping off the shelf we spotted our first fin, however it wasn’t the fin of an Orca, it was the fore flipper of a New Zealand fur seal. The fur seal was resting at the surface, yawning and warming up. Fur seals thermo-regulate at the surface, to warm themselves up after a deep-water dive. The females can reach 312m while males can get to 380!
We snapped up the fur seal in our memory cards and moved on. Following along our 1000m contour line, we kept our eyes peeled for distant blows as being a fairly calm day there were less seabirds around to rely on. Nevertheless, we continued scanning the horizon until we saw our first blows off into the distance. On approach we realised it was a pod of 3, including a mother and small calf. The small pod seemed very relaxed, moving through slow intimate passes along our port side before diving and resurfacing much further away. We followed as their whale footprints revealed the delayed navigation route of their journey leading us in and out of the hotspot.
While trailing behind the small pod we noticed, yet another New Zealand fur seal floating on the surface. Much to the surprise of our passengers the Fur Seal didn’t seem to be at all alarmed by the 3 Killer Whales looming below, glancing up at us for a brief moment before taking off.
Moving on through the canyon, still following behind our small pod of 3 we encountered Split Tip’s pod of 8. The addition of the other pod seemed to “amp” up the energy of our pod of 3 as they began to socialise, rolling on each other engaging in tactile behaviour. The close social interaction of the Orca including close body contact was a great way to end the day. Until of course we were escorted out of the canyon by porpoising common dolphins again!
What a fantastic day