Massive whales and tiny sand divers

We have been getting used to good weather – or at least weather that was conducive to fieldwork – almost 24 hours here at Raoul Island. The Braveheart crew have done a great job at facilitating our productivity by chasing the leeward side of the island. This morning began with quite a bit of chasing. The wind kept switching on us, so that we’d exhausted three anchorages before 10am.

A mother humpback and her calf

A mother humpback and her calf having a play in the churning waters.

But the strong winds didn’t stop the Natural History New Zealand crew from taking their drone for a flight. The sky was moody with sunlight breaking through the clouds and humpback whales leaping out of the white capped waters. Kina Scollay wanted to get a shot of the whales breaching with the Meyer Islands in the back ground. After a couple of flights he managed to get multiple shots of the massive whales flying through the air.

When we did hop in the water along from Boat Cove, we had beautiful conditions underwater (as Billy on the boat suffered a rain storm). The water was a few degrees cooler, but very clear, and as per usual, full of interesting critters. We had heralded Boat Cove as a tropical oasis a few days earlier. Today, it did not disappoint. We came across many rainbow wrasse which are also found in the warm waters of mainland New Zealand and a little toby – a tiny little puffer fish of cylindrical proportions. Another fun find was sand divers. A few of us noticed the sand moving before us, but were having trouble pinpointing the source of the movement. With a little persuasion we found it. Tiny little black and white sand divers, like whitebait, but perfectly camouflaged, and a little bit special. This is the first record of sand divers being in the Kermadec Islands and Tom was excited.

 A yellow-banded perch.

A yellow-banded perch just hanging out in a cave full of sponges. These fish are abundant at the Kermadec Islands but are rare around mainland New Zealand.

To finish the day Charlie cooked us a delicious lasagna. The food on the expedition has been sensational. Somehow, between driving the dive boats and assisting with diving, Charlie has managed to put together a sequence of incredible meals to keep the team happy and well fed and the expedition rolling along.

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