We woke to the nearby calls of boobies and ternlets hovering above the Braveheart. We left Macauley Island the previous evening and dropped anchor just after 6am and we’re now sitting alongside the Meyer Islands, just off the north coast of Raoul Island – certainly birds rule the land here. Under the sea however, there was the equally consistent calling of whales. The first action of the day revolved around a humpback calf and mother less than 100m from the Braveheart; their morning swim caught on camera by the film crew. We were treated throughout the day with close encounters with several humpback whales: breaching, flipper slapping, and even doing a little back stroke.
Although the water is just as clear around Cheeseman Island, Curtis Island and Macauley Island to the south, the water is a deeper shade of blue here. Raoul must sit in a different body of water or current. Given the good conditions today, the science crew decided to head out to a few of the more challenging dive sites. We might not get weather this good again! And, although the sea conditions were spectacularly good today, the survey work was not without its challenges. As the skipper of the tender put it – we were put through the ‘full rinse cycle’. Surveying the vertical and sometimes overhanging walls of Nugent Rock and North Chanter Island was like being among the clouds of the ocean – heavy waves unpredictably tumbled over our heads, momentarily reducing visibility to zero, then revealing the precariously close volcanic rock, and shooting us up the side of the island a few metres. It was quite exhilarating.
Usually the Kermadec Islands are renowned for having a high abundance of sharks and particularly Galapagos sharks. Surprisingly we have seen very few so far. But, while we hung out in the blue water doing our safety stop at 5m near the end of our dive, they appeared out of the blue. They had likely been there the whole time. We’ll no doubt see more tomorrow!