Sunday, 31 January 2010
Friday, 22 January 2010
We cruised along for a while, sitting on the bow, our legs dangling in the spray watching the dolphins leaping beneath our feet. They were so much smaller than Moko and beautifully marked with soft smudgy grey against warm caramel colour.
If only I had an underwater camera... or better, an underwater video camera! Its such an amazing experience and difficult to describe accurately. Its a true adrenalin rush. You are miles out from land and in an environment that is so totally NOT our own. But it is incredibly beautiful and the best thing about it is that you are in the dolphins world. Swimming with Moko was a buzz but at the beach he is visiting us in an environment we are comfortable in. Its a whole different experience to put yourself in the world of the dolphin. We were fortunate to strike a day with exceptionally clear water apparently so enjoyed another couple of "drops" into the ocean before it was time to go. Back at Moutohora Island we all enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate. I don't know who made the initial discovery but it appears there is a scientific formula supporting the fact that hot chocolate is THE perfect compliment to a days diving with dolphins! Certainly everyone on board was appreciative of its restorative qualities. I downed mine rather smartly however as I was determined to make the most of the last twenty minutes to check out the rocky coastline in front of the seal colony. Back in the water I scooted towards the shoreline and was captivated by a large school of silver mullet that wound its way beneath me. Golden forests of kelp swayed with the waves, rocks poking through with groups of fat kina atop them. Large purple striped fish hung out near the bottom in clearings between the seaweed. Troy joined me and I pointed out a large warty seaslug I spied below us. (Maybe next time I'll buy a disposable underwater camera.) It was the perfect end to a perfect day!
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
He swam around with the board on his head or supported on a flipper or jumped up next to it sending it shooting off as he landed back down on it.
Just as we were leaving the surfboard was recovered and returned to its rightful owner. Moko needed a new plaything and decided our boat was just right. He played on the bow wave and surfed along the wake to the delight of the passengers.
The Blue Sky stopped at Otarawairere Bay and tied up to a buoy. We photographed him from the front deck then I put some flippers, mask and snorkel on and joined him. Up at the buoy Elise told me to pull myself down the anchor rope which I did and Moko exhibited the same behaviour as he had shown at Moutohora on Friday. He seems fascinated by the way we pull ourselves down and his nose was inches from my hands. I was struck by his constant dialogue, a high whistle made up of a series of clicks. Unfortunately the water visibility wasn't the best so I didn't get the underwater view I wanted but to be in the water with him and to see him that close was amazing. One of the guys on board was testing out his flippers and trying to see how fast he could go. Moko zoomed up behind him and burned him off, showing us up for the landlubbers that we all are. Soon it was time for us to head off to find a pod of common dolphin to swim with so we said goodbye to Moko and motored out to blue water.
The rest of our day was so exhillarating that its got me worn out! I have to go to Auckland tomorrow to take some paintings up for an exhibition and I'm too tired to finish this tonight. In a couple of days I'll write about our afternoon and share some wicked shots I got of the common dolphins that swim in our ocean. Til then....zzzzzzzzzzzz
Monday, 18 January 2010
Big boats, (great for riding bow waves)
Friday, 15 January 2010
The visit was carefully organised, no more than four people in the water at a time and no touching him or approaching him closely. No-one told Moko the rules tho and he was content to swim up to the snorkelers and actively tried to get them to join his game of swimming down the yellow anchor rope of the little boat.
Here Steve from the UK gets to meet Moko. I was surprised at how big Moko was as I was used to seeing the Common Dolphin species usually seen in our waters. Moko is a bottlenosed dolphin with an estimated length of three metres.
This was Elise, one of the Blue Sky crew who fell in love with Moko. He thought she was great too because she would swim down the anchor rope right to the bottom his snout inches from her hands as she pulled herself down. At one stage he nodded his head at her, she nodded back, he wiggled his body, she wiggled back and then he zoomed right up to her faced, stopped and put the end of his nose on hers. She came to the surface and declared "He Kissed Me!!!
Before long all the tourists were back in the boat, Elise remained in the water to tell me where he was going to come up so I could get the last few shots.
All of a sudden he was right under our tiny boat about ten foot down and I saw the most perfect bubble ring rise up to the surface and pop next to me. What an enchanting creature! Back on board Blue Sky we motored away to have refreshments at a nearby Bay at the Island and Moko followed for a while riding our wake as we went. He gave me my best shot of the day.
At Moutuhora (Whale Island) some of the tourists got back in the water near a small group of seals on the rocks overhung by ancient pohutukawa trees. The sun was out by now and I was so regretting not grabbing a wetsuit (not for the first time that day!) While the seals preferred to remain unsociable the swimmers explored the beauty of the undersea life surrounding the sanctuary of Moutohora Island. I was happy to entertain myself photographing the seals. Finally we headed home, all of us buzzing over our experiences. This young man Tague, a fellow collector, was especially happy with his latest treasure.
After seeing Moko I can't help but fear for his future. He has such a faith in human nature and I have a gut feeling that will be his downfall. He is a wild creature and deserves to be able to exist as such. His strange fascination with people is perplexing. He is a bottlenosed dolphin not often seen in these parts but why does he not seek out his own kind? His ability to interact with us makes it so hard to resist wanting to interact back, to observe him in his own environment, to be delighted by his antics. He touched everyone that was there that day and I don't mean physically. But he has already had a taste of what mankind is capable of on a beach down in Gisborne when a crowd of youths reportedly hit him and there were reports of a woman at Omaio hitting him with an oar. He can be a bit "pushy" apparently and after playing with people he tries to stop them leaving especially if they are on kayaks or similar.
I hope he stays offshore where his contact with humans is limited. The crew of the Blue Sky had the utmost respect for him and made sure their patrons did the same but we can't be sure everyone else will have the same attitude. In a way the situation with Moko reflects a lot of what my art is about -mankinds treatment and interaction with nature. Lets hope this story has a happy ending. Kia Kaha Moko!
Many Thanks to Whale and Dolphin Watch Whakatane, the crew of Blue Sky and Whakatane Beacon for such a memorable experience.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Some were chasing a ball
And yes, this ones name was Hairy McLairy!
(They were all very well behaved too I might add. Good on ya dog whisperers.)
Monday, 11 January 2010
But I swear when the bride arrived I focused on the ceremony not tuis or rabbits. Speaking of rabbits, I was walking Billy the Wonder Dog tonight when he got the scent of a rabbit in the woodpile. He raced over to investigate and spooked the rabbit from its hiding place. It ran away from Bill and straight towards me running right between my legs! Meanwhile Billy had his nose amongst the logs thinking "I'm sure there's a rabbit around here somewhere!" Duh!!!! Those bunnies are SO safe.But it was a lovely walk. I got this shot of a random orange cloud, the only one in the sky to colour up in the sunset. And finally the same cloud reflected in a cow trough.
Friday, 8 January 2010
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
My Dad enjoying the view of the road to Kohi point and Otarawairere Bay.
The West End of beautiful Ohope Beach, Otarawairere Bay & the Whakatane Heads.