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Albatross Encounter Update for November 2016

Posted by Tracy Cooper (0 Comments)
Saturday, 31 December 2016 in Default

Welcome to the Albatross Encounter Update for November 2016

As you can all imagine, we were devastated by the events of 14th November. At 12.02am Kaikoura was rocked by a huge 7.8 magnitude earthquake that caused structural damage to buildings, roads and essential services. Fortunately all our staff were accounted for, but the events of that night changed the operational status of our business for the foreseeable future.

Our building suffered minor damage, however, with at least 10 faults involved in the earthquake and with the Kaikoura quake classified as New Zealand’s second largest quake, it has caused significant damage to the seabed with movement of up to 6m in some places. In South Bay, the sea floor has risen over 1m making it impossible to maintain our “normal” scheduled tours with Encounter II unable to be launched within 1.5 hours either side of low tide.

The state highway to the north, south and Inland road suffered extensive slips that sent massive boulders tumbling down cliffs onto the road below cutting Kaikoura off from the outside world.

The response and support that we received was enormous with the arrival of 6 naval vessels from both New Zealand and overseas. The initial task was to ensure everyone’s safety and to start with, the enormous task of evacuating more than 2,000 tourists that were stranded in Kaikoura. The Encounter team were keep busy transporting tourists and their luggage to either the helipad or to South Bay where naval tenders transferred passengers to the HMNZS Canterbury to evacuate people to Christchurch.

Unfortunately Gary’s house didn’t fair too well in the quake forcing him to set up camp outside. He became a media star with journalist’s queuing up to interview him to see how he was coping under the circumstances. As usual, Gary’s laid back approach to life enabled him to turn a disaster into a “camping trip” with a homemade camp fire and camp oven, he was kept busy cooking up roasts and keeping the family well fed trying not to waste food in his freezer that would rot without the essential power to it. Gary did a great interview with Radio New Zealand, check out the link for more information:-

Prior to the earthquake, we were super busy on our tours and in the first part of the month, we had been able to operate 30 tours.

Species of interest this month included black-browed albatross, southern giant petrel, short-tailed shearwater, white-chinned petrel, grey-faced petrel and Buller’s shearwater. To see what was sighted prior to the earthquake, go to our sightings page.

After the earthquake, we did use our birding boat (Encounter II) for a media trip to see the dusky dolphins and couldn’t resist a brief stop at the edge of the Kaikoura Canyon to check out what was in the area. As usual, it didn’t take the giant petrels long to find us and they exhibited their usual aggressive behavior. Other species observed were northern royal albatross, Gibson’s albatross, white-capped and Salvin’s albatross, Westland and white-chinned petrel, Hutton’s shearwater, fluttering shearwater, arctic skua and Australasian gannet

We hope over the coming month to have more updates on our operational status but for now, that’s all our news.

Till next time……

Tour Photos
 © Dennis Buurman» Main Highway North Kaikoura
 © Dennis Buurman» Seabed Rise
 © Dennis Buurman» Prime Minister Visits Kaikoura
 © Albatross Encounter» Salvin's Albatross
 © Albatross Encounter» Red 73E
 © Albatross Encounter» Taking Photos


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