I wasn’t expecting to be able to see wild dolphins in my life at all, let alone a superpod. But after a few years of whale whatching, I’m pretty confident it is going to happen sooner or later.
The most amazing experience to date was being splashed by a dusky dolphin in New Zealand. I was out on a whale watching vessel (please pronounce it with a very small e, like in vssl), off the coasts of Kaikoura in the Southern Island, where they have an impressive underwater canyon. We had just met Tiaki, a resident sperm whale, and we were were looking at a humpback (they don’t have humpbacks very often over there so it was pretty exciting for everyone including the crew), when we were surrounded by a pod of about one hundred dusky dolphins. At one point I was standing alone on the port side of this medium sized catamaran, looking into the water, when I saw this small dolphin swimming along the side of the board, swiftly it turned on his side to look up at me, there was the briefest moment of eye contact, then it jumped out of the water and immediately landed on its side again, to raise just the right amount of water to splash me and only me (not the boat), and so it swam away.
To date, I still don’t know what it wanted to tell me. We know so little about their ethology.
Best whale watching was in Hermanus South Africa, completely land based, but that was another matter entirely, more NatGeo style.
Anyway, when we went to New Quay last August, our Pembrokeshire landlady warned us that she had tried to see dolphins many times and never succeeded, not even from her uncle’s place right in the middle of Cardigan Bay. Therefore I was a little puzzled when upon arriving in New Quay I saw a dolphin right in from or the pier, and not only a dolphin, a mother bottlenose with a calf.
They spent nearly an our in the harbour, among the kayakers and saying hello to a very lucky and courageous lady who was in the swimming area. I had observed this lady entering the water in swimming suit and swimming cap (no wetsuit) and slowly and confidently cruising to the buoyed swimming area, while everyone was looking at the dolphins at the other side of the pier. Half an hour later she was standing close to a buoy, with the mother and calf only a couple of meters away, slowly pumping their flukes. They had joined her. So you see, there’s no limit to what a whale watching experience can turn out be. The guys of the Carding Bay Marine Wildlife Center are keeping track of the sightings (you can also join survey trips).
A superpod passed the Pembrokeshire coast only a few days ago.