Tuesday, August 17

Rarotonga whale watching

We were heading home from shopping last Saturday when we saw parked cars and motorbikes near the sea wall at the end of the airport runway. People were standing, staring out past the reef and since no planes were due in at that time it looked like a whale sighting.
We carried on to Nikao beach where more people had gathered and sure enough there was a pod of whales heading slowly along the reef towards Arorangi. They were spouting, breaching and thrashing their tales about. In fact they seemed to be having a great time playing, just like kids in the waves.
We rushed back home, grabbed cameras and binoculars and went down to Black Rock at the Arorangi end of Nikao beach.
The whales were getting close to the rock, still leaping about. A couple of small boats kept pace with the pod, probably Nan Hauser of the Whale Research Centre on Rarotonga. During the whale season here, she and a group of volunteers keep tabs on all these magnificent visitors to our waters. Apparently whales come up to this part of the world from the Antarctic to calve between about July and October.
The pod put on quite a show for a very appreciative audience of both locals and tourists, then started heading back the way they had come.
I’ve seen quite a few whales this year, far more than I have in previous years. I don’t know if that’s because there are more of them around or just that I’ve been getting out more but either way it’s a fabulous sight.
(For more information on Nan and the research check out http://www.whaleresearch.org/.)