Marine Mammal Spotlight - Common Dolphins

Common dolphins have a distinctive creamy yellow hourglass pattern along their sides, with a dark grey back, tail and flippers along with a cream coloured belly. Their beak is relatively long and slender.

Common dolphins in Kaikōura, New Zealand

Adult common dolphins measure between 1.7 to 2.7 metres long and weigh about 150kgs. Their lifespan is thought to be between 25-30 years.

 Common dolphins in Kaikōura, New Zealand

Worldwide, there are currently two species of common dolphins recognised by scientists – short-beaked (Delphinus delphis) and long-beaked (Delphinus capensis).

Common dolphins are very acrobatic and can be at times be seen leaping clear out of the water. Their high-pitched vocalisations can, at times be heard by humans above the surface of the water. These dolphins are inquisitive and sociable animals and often approach boats to ride the bow wave.

 

Common dolphin leaping out of the water in Kaikōura, NZ. Photo Credit: Rob Pine

Photo Credit: Rob Pine

Common dolphins are thought to be one of the most abundant cetacean species, with population estimates suggesting that there up to several hundred thousand of them globally. However, with all marine mammals these dolphins too are subject to the same threats as others such as pollution and degradation of the marine environment. Injury from boat strike is also a threat especially with their like of bow riding, along with decreasing food source due to over-fishing.

Common dolphins in Kaikōura, New Zealand

This week Kaikōura really lived up to its reputation of being a marine mecca, with a wide variety of marine mammals sighted in abundance on our tours! We saw a lot of large transient Sperm Whales visiting our Coast to indulge in the nutrient rich waters of the Hikurangi Trench, as well as Spotty Tail! A semi-residential Sperm Whale who we’ve been seeing for a while now.

We’ve also seen a great number of Pilot Whales over the week, on Tuesday we saw 50+ and then on Thursday we saw 150+! A couple of stray Humpback Whales have also been hanging around Kaikōura, which we don’t usually get to see in November, but we’re guessing they’re just enjoying the Kaikōura Canyon too much to leave!

Dolphin varieties we saw on our tours included the usual suspects, the acrobatic Duskies and endangered Hectors, and this week we saw a pod of 20+ Bottlenose. As well as seeing the smallest of the dolphin species, the Hector, we also spotted the largest – the Orca. That makes two weeks in a row of Orca sighting!

On Tuesday, the 14th of November which marked exactly 1 year on from when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck which raised our coastline and left our boats on dry land, we celebrated our official marina opening. Thank you to everyone’s support and well wishes over the past year, each word of encouragement has been truly appreciated.

ROAD ACCESS UPDATE

There is a possibility of short delays with it being 30km/hour through parts of the route. Check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling. INLAND ROUTE 70 IS OPEN 24/7.

KAIKOURA BUSINESS UPDATE

Kaikōura is open for business. For latest updates on accommodation, restaurant and retail information please contact the team at the Kaikōura I-Site who will be able to help you find what suits your needs during your stay in Kaikōura. 

ORGANISED TRANSPORT OPTIONS FROM CHRISTCHURCH

Hasslefree ToursCanterbury Leisure Tours & Kaikoura Express have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch. Kiwi Experience now have the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers. Intercity Bus also provides a bus service between Christchurch and Kaikoura return.

Progress on the work being done on the roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on the dedicated Kaikoura Earthquake Response page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Fridays. Work is also underway on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.