February 16, 2002
Captain Dean and his crew provided us with a most amazing afternoon! Equipment is top-of-the-line...including underwater sonar to a huge flat overhead computer showing oceanic depths and GPS positioning. The boat can travel as fast as 50 knots...which is flying over water not IN water. There is a Maori guide who will tell you all about the critters you see during almost 3 hours on the water.
The last commercial whaling here was as late as 1964 when 120 "individuals" were taken. It's interesting to note that Japan and Norway are lobbying to increase whaling at the present time.
Sperm whales have teeth rather than baleen ( big strainers) where each tooth in the upper jaw is about 20 cm. long. They are used to hold prey rather than to nash and chew. They can eat sharks, but really relish the giant squid ( up to 21 meters long and larger than the whale itself). Yet, brazen little dolphins will face them off !
The 16 ft. male whale we followed weighed about 48 tons. He could dive to 8,200 ft. ( found by submarines) and stay under for as long as one hour feeding. As the whale ascends from the dive, they stop using sonar and this is the tense time for the Captain of the boat. For 7 long minutes, he doesn't know where the whale is going to breech! The whale's lungs are smaller than our own (AMAZING!) and of course their brains are much larger....which probably accounts for their safety record in not hitting a boat load of tourists!
When you return, it will be time to feed the human beast. Try the Cafe Flukes where we had 2 parmesan herb-broiled fish sandwiches spiced cajun with currant jelly ( It was wonderful!), with pototo wedges and 2 cokes for $34.50.
Back on Route 1, there's a shop called " Rush Munro's heavenly Ice Cream". One ball is $1.60. Try the Hokey Pokey (like butter brittle), the passionfruit or mango are nice too.
From journal Best at the Bottom of the World