Coming back to the Auckland Islands is a bit like coming home. This is my fourth winter season since 2008 and the harbour feels as familiar as my neighbourhood in Auckland. This feeling is helped by the whale welcome parties that visited the MV Strannik while we settled into Erebus Cove yesterday afternoon.
As it was far too windy to work on the water, we prepared our gear onboard the Strannik and were treated to groups of curious whales coming close to the vessel. The tohorā would often roll on their side to get a better look at us. Down here, boats are a novelty to the whales, and it seemed like the tohorā wanted to check out their new neighbours.
There are particular neighbours we’d like to see this winter: Bill/Wiremu and Tahi, two of the whales we tagged last season. Tahi was transmitting up until a few days ago, just out of Port Ross. Bill is further north, but we hope he’ll come by for a visit. We have put a small receiver on the bridge of the Strannik that will beep if any of the transmitting whales come close. If that happens, hopefully the weather allows us to put up a drone and check out our mates.