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Swimming with the dusky dolphins

Posted November 25th, 2008 by celene.carillo@oregonstate.edu

Date: 11-25-2008
Location: Devon Hotel in Christchurch, NZ
Time: 10pm
Latitude: 43°31′43.04″S
Longitude: 172°37′58.15″E
Elevation: ~10 m (’)
Temperature: °C ( °F)
Wind speed: km/h ( mp/h)
Wind Chill: °C (°F)
Animals: Dusky Dolphins!!! Also the Wandering Albatross.
Breakfast: Blueberry muffin & French bread with nutella
Lunch: An apple
Supper: Fish & rice. Chocolate cake for dessert.

Logan swimming with dusky bottlenose dolphins.

Logan swimming with dusky bottlenose dolphins.

Today I had an incredible experience, I swam with dolphins! We woke up at 5am, put on ~5mm wetsuits & snorkeling gear then got on the Dolphin Encounters boat & drove across the Kaikoura bay. It didn’t take long to find the pod of wild Dusky dolphins which are a type of bottle nosed dolphin. The Dolphin Encounter boat captain said that the pod of ~350-400 dolphins that we found was unusually large. The Dusky dolphins are 1.6-1.8m long and weigh 70-80kg. We drove to the front of the pod and the boat dropped us in the water. Visibility under the water was ~15 meters and the water was incredibly cold – my hands and feet which were not covered by the wetsuit were numb within minutes. The first thing that I noticed was how many dolphins swimming all around us…they were so graceful and beautiful! I felt incredibly clumsy in the water next to them, but they seemed to enjoy playing with us, like for example they would swim around me about 2 feet away while I tried to keep up with them by spinning in place so that we maintained eye contact. At one time I did this with a dolphin for almost two minutes! There is something very special with maintaining eye contact with an incredibly intelligent animal for that long. There was at least one baby dolphin that I saw in the pod as well. We got to swim around for ~15 minutes, then we got back in the boat, moved to a new spot, swam for ~15 more minutes, and then did it again for a total of ~45 minutes swimming with dolphins! After we were done swimming we got back in the boat and drove around for awhile. The dolphins would swim right in front of the bow of the boat and jump around just to the side of it!

Once back on land, we drove back to Christchurch only to find out that flights to Antarctica for the past couple of days had been delayed due to poor weather conditions and so we would also get delayed by two
additional days. This will give me a chance to get caught up on other things I guess.

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