Friday, 7 December 2012

Wildlife in the South Pacific

Sailing the Pacific Ocean, I had presumed our ship would be inundated with sea creatures along the way. I thought open water would include regular visit from Dolphins, wanting to hitch a ride on the bow - or whales taking a breather near by.  Very Naive and very wrong. In our major open water crossings (OZ to NZ - NZ to Rarotonga - New Caledonia) we were stalked by Birds and attacked by flying fish, but had very few Whale sightings. It was closer to land that most interactions took place.  When animals did come out and play, they certainly were memorable.  Here are my top wildlife highlights sailing the South Pacific.

Starting with the Smallest - Crabs. In Suwarrow the abundance of hermit crabs creeping along the beach fascinated me. It also led to some crab races and placing them on another crew member's head.* And then at night we got to see the big daddies. Meet Mr Coconut Crab.

These guys are huge when fully grown. Unfortunately it takes a while for them to grow up big and strong, and in many islands with a human population, they have found themselves on the menu and in fewer numbers.

Representing the reptile family is the chilled out hippy of the ocean - The turtle.  I mean let's face it, lizards and sea snakes just can't compete with the laid back philosophy of these guys.  Our first sighting was in Aitutaki but it was in Lamen Bay that we swam with these beautiful creatures. I never imagined we would see so many in one location munching on the sea grass.

Again with Suwarrow, but Crabs were not the only marine life flourishing without human interruption.  Reef sharks and other bigger scarier ones were thriving in the atoll.  And although we saw the odd reefy and a mako, we never saw them in such pacts as in Suwarrow's waters. So incredibly graceful and no matter how small the shark, my adrenaline always kicked in when I spotted one!

Well...I had to really. No marine wildlife composition would be complete without the trusty Dolphin.  From Oz the New zealand, stretching across the islands, there they were, ready to greet us.  Differing in Shape and size, the majority of the time they wanted to play. Seeing dolphins was a good indication that we weren't too far from land. It is also worth noting that fake killer whales played a similar roles to dolphins, but with a weird nose.

Sea birds were one of the few marine wildlife to venture with us in deep open water.  My favourite was when a Albatross would follow us for hours on end, circling us, watching for food.  We were also joined by Gannets and closer to land, the odd tropical bird.  Very close to land and parrots would pop by.

But finally  a picture of the most amazing sea creature in the south pacific.  I am still boring people with how amazing swimming with humpback whales in Tonga was.  It remains one of the best experiences of my life and would love to do it again.  The sheer size of these guys blew my mind and left me humbled.  As time went on in the South Pacific we had a lot of whale sightings, predominately in Tonga, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.  Every time someone yelled 'whale' from  on deck I would rush up like a kid at Christmas.   

 There is also one group of South Pacific wildlife I need to Thank. To all the the wahoos, mahi mahi and tuna who so kindly took our lures and made it onto our dinner plate.  Thank you  for the sacrifice - you tasted delicious!!! 

* please note no crabs were harmed in these activities. In fact, I'm quite sure they rather enjoyed the break in routine.


Alli Campbell said...

My heart literally skipped a beat at that first picture. And the last! It breaks my heart that people want to kill these incredible animals. So jealous you swam with them!! :)

Dusty Soles said...

Honestly - Go to Tonga and do it. Can't believe anyone would want to hunt them either. In the modern age there is no excuse!

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