Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dolphins, while they're wonderful, they dont fare well up here in the river.

We had a little adventure yesterday, Mark from the boat across the river, his daughter Bree, and I.  He rang me up fairly early in the morning to tell me that there were dolphins in the river just upstream of us. They were in a big wide spot, so shallow with the tide right out that they couldn’t submerge enough to get their fins below the surface, and looking very agitated.
Mark had rung Project Jonah,  https://www.projectjonah.org.nz/  and they were on their way up by car.  Mark took his inflatable off to pick them up while I took SEI up toward the dolphins to have a look, not too close, they were upset enough as it was.

When Mark came back he had a couple of Dept of Conservation staff on board as well as the Project Jonah people, and we managed to get up stream of the pod, wanting to hold them in the area until the rising tide had given them enough depth to swim free rather than letting them head upstream where they could be trapped and stranded on the next low tide.

Much gentle herding, two boats not being enough I launched “Deflatermouse” my little RIB with its 2 hp Honda outboard, gave that to the “Jonah” guys while I rowed SEI giving us three boats.  It took a while, but about mid tide we got them over the mudbanks and out into the channel, Mark herding them downstream through the moorings and out to sea.
I left SEI tied up about half a mile below my home, transferring to Deflatermouse and followed Mark out into the open .
The DOC guys had brought their big power boat up from Auckland, and we all met up opposite the entrance to the Okura River, where they tied our two RIBs alongside and towed us back home. 

It sounds simple, and really there is not a lot to tell, but it was a huge buzz helping these creatures back to safety. Thanks Project Jonah and Dept of Conservation for their part in it, we’re amateurs Mark, Bree and I, may have succeeded but they’ve done this sort of work before, know the Dolphins, know their temperaments, their habits and how to handle them.  Between our three boats, our knowledge of the channels in the river and their expertise, 12 or a few more ( very hard to get an accurate count ) dolphins were moved back out to safety.
It was an awesome day on the river. 

I could almost hear his thoughts, "What are those? Should I try and chase them, or bark at them or are their teeth bigger than me?"

Thats my boatshed workshop  and my floating home behind that mass of fins, I'm sitting in my little 15ft double ended rowing boat, about 10 ft away from them, hard up against the bank of the river. it was an amazing experience working to get them away back to deep water 3 miles or so downstream.