Fishing was the last thing on kayaker Paul Hannah's mind when
he realised he was accompanied by a pod of bottlenose
dolphins in Otago Harbour yesterday morning.
The pod of about 50 to 60 dolphins appeared to be hunting for
salmon and spent the day milling about the harbour travelling
from the wharves to the Andersons Bay causeway, University of
Otago graduate student Tom Brough said.
He had just completed surveying the bottlenose dolphins
around Stewart Island last week and had identified four seen
there in the pod in Otago Harbour.
''They've done about 150 miles [241km] in just over a week."
Researchers could identify the dolphins by their dorsal fins
and had done what was thought to be the first scientific
photographic survey of those in Otago Harbour for future
reference. Most scientific research on the dolphins had been
done on the resident Fiordland populations in Dusky and
Mr Hannah said it was the first time in 12 years of kayaking
around the harbour and coast he had seen dolphins, so he gave
up on the idea of fishing.
''It was very exciting to see them up close. I was amazed at
the size of them."
It gave him pause when a dolphin breached beside him but they
seemed more interested in feeding, he said.
''It was pretty lucky,'' he said.
''It certainly made it hard to come back to work."
The University of Otago, Portobello marine centre and the
Department of Conservation all received calls from people who
had seen the dolphins.
Doc marine ranger Jim Fyfe said it was not uncommon for
groups of bottlenose dolphins to visit Otago Harbour in