After a 3 day journey from Ecuador to New Zealand (Quito to Lima to LA for 15 hours to Auckland… because of the Chilean earthquake) we arrived in need of a meal, a shower and food..in that order.
A couple of days acclimatising in Auckland and we were ready for the next adventure. It felt very strange to be back in an English speaking country and we all spent the first 48 hours still speaking Spanish to everyone. We were constantly trying to find the hitch with things too. “What do you mean the bus is actually going to where it says it is on the front of the bus…what’s the catch?!” ….that and the fact that there were no chickens or goats on the bus. Man…we really missed them!
It was kind of nice having Western food again….mmm marmite, baked beans, proper tea, Guinness, but also a bit strange too. Where’s the rice and quinoa? What, no mystery meat floating in my vegetable soup?
So….we decided to try and create our own new adventure as soon as possible. We began by heading to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. Our intention was to swim with dolphins here, but nature had other plans in store.
We were all togged up and ready to go on the boat. It was a lovely, warm day and we were hopeful of finding a suitable pod to swim safely with. We became excited as we saw a large group of dolphins in the distance, but then quickly realised that they were swimming at lightening speed. In fact they were swimming for their lives as a group of Orcas (adults and babies) sped hungrily after them, looking for an early lunch.
It was one of those moments that was both amazing and very sad. To see the orca hunting was amazing. They have such skill and determination, but to see it actually catch and eat the dolphin and her baby was both outstanding and sad too. The great circle of life right in front of our eyes, an amazing biology lesson for us all. Orca usually don’t hunt dolphins, there is much easier prey to catch out there in the ocean. Vanessa (the captain of the boat) said it was something they saw only once every few years. There it was, another absolute National Geographic moment right in front of our eyes.
The news made front page of the local newspaper and was even published in the UK press too. The photos they show (much better than ours) demonstrates exactly how amazing yet grotesque it was. The dolphin was thrown into the air, spine snapping on the end of the orca, and fell right into the Orca’s mouth. The dolphin had a small calf who also became lunch too. After their meal the orca were happy to hang around and play by the boat, giving us all an excellent view of the group, so close that we all got sprayed by them.
Take a look at the link, the photos are excellent (and sad too, see the baby dolphin watching it’s mother being eaten).
Needless to say, after that, we weren’t allowed into the water to swim! Also, we didn’t see much other marine life as it had all ran and cowered in fear…can you blame them?! We were lucky enough to see another small pod of dolphins later that day but they too had infants so we didn’t swim with them.
But, you know what? We didn’t care at all. We all felt so fortunate to have witnessed all that we had, that we were more than content to forgo the actual aim of the day.