New Zealand: whale watching
There is such an expensive entertainment – Whale Watching, whale watching. There are several spots in America, South Africa, and Madagascar where people come from all over the world to see the world’s largest animals. Moreover, the considerable amounts paid for this adventure do not guarantee that you will see, in fact, a whale. A close friend of mine, for example, spent a whole day at sea near Boston, and saw nothing but the tears of disappointed children. Therefore, the offer to wrap in Kaikoura to watch whales I responded with uncharacteristically skepticism. Watch whales in Kaikoura come not just.Near the shore, not far from the town, there is a deep ocean depression Hikurangi, which is simply teeming with plankton, which is carried to the surface by the rising ocean current. Well, where plankton is, there are whales. For a long time, kaikura was a powerful whaling base, which now does not resemble anything, this poor fishing has long been a thing of the past. Now it is one of the centers of ecological tourism, one of the first to receive the “Green globe”, a kind of environmental Oscar in this part of the world. And they run this business in Kaikura Maori, which gives the adventure an extra touch of exoticism. Small boats and luxury catamarans, which can accommodate several dozen tourists-observers, are bobbing along the pier. We pass by small boats, heading just in time for the catamarans. Why do the four of us need a whole ship? It’s very simple, says Jean-Michel, on a catamaran, the pitching is invisible and he only rides his clients on them. And we are his guests. On the dock, we are greeted by a huge smiling Maori Roger Williams, who is tempted to call Jolly Roger (I have never seen small and unfriendly Maori in New Zealand). He is the captain and only crew member of our catamaran. I can’t help but say a few words about our vehicle. New Zealand’s closest neighbor, Australia, is famous around the world for its high – speed catamarans: two world leaders in this area – Incat and Austral-are based there, and Incat makes ships even for the US Navy. Apparently, our catamaran was made by this company. The ship is surprisingly agile and easy to manage, and our captain, sitting in a comfortable chair that resembles a mixture of the workplace of a trucker and a starship pilot, looks more like a driver than a sailor. And in front of Roger is not the traditional steering wheel, familiar to us since childhood, and that neither is the usual driver’s wheel. The catamaran, deftly maneuvering between other vessels, goes to sea, quickly gaining speed. Finding whales only looks like a game of roulette from the outside, in fact it is a high-tech business. The catamaran is equipped with a modern hydroacoustic station that displays on a large display in front of the captain the distance and direction to large underwater objects, which are our whales. An experienced Maori determines which whales are located by their muddy silhouettes and precisely directs them to the desired point. And not in the one that the sounder shows, but in the one where the whales should emerge. Different whales spend different times underwater. Right now, we’re hunting for a pair of humpback whales that come up every ten minutes. From the outside, it looks a bit like magic – Roger swims to a certain point, puts the catamaran on idle and waits. Almost by the hour, two huge backs with slightly curved fins appear directly ahead, release a couple of times with a snort up a fountain of spray and disappear into the ocean depths, waving goodbye to the giant blades of their tails. Our catamaran makes a dash to the next point and freezes again, with the whales emerging closer and closer each time. Either they got used to us, or the captain “took aim”. After a while, two wet backs get tired and we go away from the shore, where ten minutes later we come across a small “submarine” – lying on the surface of a sperm whale, the largest toothed whale. In fact, it looks more like a huge half-submerged log with an almost invisible rudimentary fin. You begin to understand why American whalers called it a ” freight car.” Periodically, the “wagon” releases a fountain of steam and spray into the air, without thinking of diving. Roger says that sperm whales ventilate their lungs longer than other whales before diving, but they may not appear on the surface for up to an hour and a half. But now our whale breathed, moved and began to disappear under the water, waving goodbye to us with its giant tail fin, which could easily fit a classic Soviet dacha. Interest in whales begins to wane, and Roger turns the catamaran in the direction of “dessert” – to Dolphin flocks. You don’t even need to look for them – you can see dolphins jumping several meters out of the water from a kilometer away. The second landmark is a small boat with tourists standing nearby. The flocks are really huge, and the water in their center is literally boiling from the rubber Dolphin backs. It is difficult to understand whether the dolphins are hunting, or playing the fool, and maybe both. A certain number of people notice our catamaran and begin to cut circles around it, passing at a great speed in centimeters from the stem. Some jump out of the water, some roll over on their backs and swim next to the light belly up. I feel like I’m on some kind of fun holiday, but I don’t fully understand its rules. Moreover, there are several flocks, and we cruise between them, observing completely different dolphins: dusky, Hector and bottle-nosed. You, full of impressions, going back to Kikuru. In a few hours, Jolly Roger has become almost a brother to me, and it’s a damn shame to leave him. Alexander Grek thanks Jean-Michel Jefferson and the company “Ahipara” for organizing a trip to New Zealand.