Whangarei, March 1st, 2015 It has been 3 months since we arrived in New Zealand. We have celebrated Christmas with Milo, Agnes and Isabel who came from Barcelona, have cruised a bit of Nothland. We have followed Orcas, swam with Dolphins, fished for fish and dove for scallops. It is summer here, which does not always mean dry hot weather, but we have enjoyed ourselves, the company of kiwi friends and fellow cruisers. We have been in Whangarei for almost 6 weeks. Nils, Noa and Luna attend Whangarei Primary School every morning. It was a great challenge for them to go to an English speaking school, specially for Noa and Nils who didn’t speak English before we arrived in NZ. But Noa speaks very well already, even if some kids in school ask her why she speaks so strange and Nils is learning to read and write in English. Luna speaks fluently and communicates as if she was native. Ainara didn’t make it into High School (too expensive) but she gets up in the morning and bikes to Whangarei Library were she studies with Ella from Breeze on her own, as if she was a Uni Student. In the meantime Genie and Dani have been working on the boat which is on the hard at Norsand Boatyard for general maintenance to get Lumbaz ready for another season in the tropics. We will talk about our plans soon (as soon as we know them……☺ ) In fact, this time it is Ainara who has written something for our blog:
Getting to know the ORCAS with Ingrid Visser, by Ainara
We were in Opua (New Zealand) when we heard on the radio that there were Orcas in the Bay. We jumped in the dinghy and found them. What an amazing beautiful animal! Here they were, cruising, jumping and hunting. We couldn’t believe it! It was the first time we saw those big black and white creatures. Orcas are mammals. This means they are warm-blooded animals that make milk, breathe air and have air. They are the largest animals in the dolphin family. We followed them for some miles when we saw a big red dinghy coming with a woman taking pictures. The red dinghy came near us and explained that we couldn’t go faster than five knots because the orcas could get hurt. Right in that moment an orca came just right in front of the red dinghy and the lady said we could join her. Little by little we got to know her. Her name is Ingrid Visser. She has been studying the Orcas in New Zealand for 20 years and built her own Orca Research Foundation. Ingrid told us a lot of things about the Orcas, how to recognise them, how they live, eat, mate, sleep…The Orcas always come to the Bay of Islands to hunt for rays and sharks. One of them takes a ray and then they split it with the others, all together they stripp it apart and eat the liver. Some times they are really active hunting and feeding themselves. Here in New Zealand they eat mostly rays and sharks. We saw one capturing a treasure Shark and eating it! In other places, depending on “their culture“, where they live they have different culinary habits, just like us all over the world. We got to know every single Orca with her name and story and after a while we could recognise them by their names. Orcas always live in groups with their families. They sleep with the head out of the water and have developed a special way of sleeping. Only half of their brain goes to sleep at one time. The other half is used for swimming, keeping in contact with the other orca and looking for danger. When the first half of the brain has had enough sleep, the other half has a turn. The adult males have got a huge fin, which goes straight up, the SAM (sub-adult-male) have got a straight fin but not that long like the adult ones and the females have got a little one and curved. Those orcas that live in the wild can live normally 100 Years. The ones in captivity live on average only 10 years. The males in captivity always have a dropped fin as a sign of sadness. They suffer from being separated from their families and a lot of times they hurt themselves in the tanks. They can easily become aggressive and depressed as they live in those prisons. I have been to sea world to see the orcas and now that I have learned how much damage we do to them, how do they capture them, separating them from their families and then how they live in captivity without enough space to swim, without fishing… I will never go back and I would love everyone to have a look at the documentary Blackfish http://www.seaworldofhurt.com/features/blackfish-documentary-exposes-seaworld/ to understand what we do to them. Parks with Orcas shouldn’t exist and we have to be responsible! After this amazing day with Ingrid and the Orcas we went back to the boat exhausted but really happy because of this wonderful adventure. We learned so much about the Orcas and Ingrid. The following day we were in a Christmas parade when we got a call from Ingrid again. The Orcas were in the Bay of Islands again so we went back to the boat jumped in the dinghy and went to the Orcas and Ingrid. It was getting dark and we had a full moon. Just then, we had some incredible breaches from the calves playing with us and then just under the dinghy we had the whole family showing themselves and looking at us. It was just incredible. These Orcas gave me power and inspired me to realise my dream and be a marine biologist. Ingrid gave me a lot of inspiration and motivation to follow my dream like she always follows hers even if it is difficult. I am fascinated with all those experiences and I am reading all the books she has published. If you want to know more about the Orcas and Ingrid Visser here are some incredible footage at Gopro Orca Rescue in 4K
and the link of the foundation http://www.orcaresearch.org
Thank you Ingrid for sharing your time and knowledge with us!