8 Tips for Getting that Perfect Whale Snap

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Seeing a Sperm Whale for the first time can be very exciting, and also very distracting when trying to take the perfect shot! Here are our 8 tips for securing some whale memories, including the infamous whale tail snap!

1. KEEP YOUR GEAR PROTECTED

When whale watching by boat, we never know what Mother Nature might throw at us in terms of the oceans swell. It’s super important to keep your photography gear secure, keep that camera strap around your neck and when you’re not getting snap happy with your phone, store it in a zipped up pocket. No one wants to be diving overboard for their dropped iPhone!

2. SOMETIMES ZOOMING IN ISN'T THE BEST OPTION

It can be tempting to overuse your zoom feature in order to make sure you get those close up shots that show all of the whales’ unique markings and scars, but sometimes this isn’t recommended. We’ve found that it can be equally as rewarding to take the long shot and then crop the photo in the editing phase to position the photo exactly how you’d like it.

3. SHUTTER SPEED IS KEY

A high shutter speed can sometimes be what separates those Insta worthy photos from your trash can. Many cameras now allow you to adjust the shutter speed without negatively impacting the focus and exposure.  A good rule of thumb is to never let the shutter speed get lower that 1/2000s if you want to counteract the movements of the boat and whale.

4. COMPARISON

Sperm Whales are absolutely huge! They tend to be about the same length as our whale watching vessels, that’s a whopping 18 metres! Because Kaikōura is such marine mecca, often you’ll have seabirds or, on the special occasion, dolphins in proximity to the whale that you can use for size comparison. Putting people inside your shot or even holding something in front of the camera mix up your standard photos and let people gage the size.

5. DON’T EXPECT THE BOAT TO GET CLOSER

There are specific rules about how close tour boats can get to whales. Here in Kaikōura, boats remain 50 meters away. Whales may well come closer to check out the boat, but we like to give them room to breathe and re-oxygenate without encroaching on their space.

6. UNDERSTANDING WHALE BEHAVIOUR – THE SPOUT SHOT

If you’re trying to get a shot of the Sperm Whale’s spout, then count the seconds between blows so you can anticipate the next one. The blow is a noisy, single stream that rises 3-6 meters above the surface on a 45-degree angle. Sperm Whales tend to blow every 10-20 seconds or so.

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7. UNDERSTANDING WHALE BEHAVIOUR – THE TAIL SHOT

If you’re looking or that iconic fluke shot, then you’ll have to be ready as this opportunity only comes round once when the Sperm Whale is diving! Flukes are usually lifted very high out of the water before a whale begins its deep dive. Our sea crew will give you verbal warning when it looks like this dive is about to occur but sometimes Sperm Whales are cheeky and don’t give us any warming, so make sure you’re ready!

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8. DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY THIS TRULY OTHERWORLDLY EXPERIENCE

Yes, there is a such thing as too many photos. And sometimes getting behind the camera means that you forget to be present in the moment and don’t quite appreciate what’s right in front of you. So make sure that you put your camera down at some point and immerse yourself in the experience of seeing these astounding mammals in their natural habitat. Breathe in the fresh air, feel the sea spray on your face and listen to the world’s biggest toothed mammal breathe in harmony with the lapping of the waves. 

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Even though we’re still in the last month of Winter, it’s starting to feel more and more like Spring! It was a cracker weekend here in Kaikōura with amazing sea conditions and picture perfect days to go along with it.

This week we saw semi-residential whales Tiaki, Matimati, Tutu and Aoraki as well as some visiting Sperm Whales to our region. It’s so encouraging to see these whales returning to our region time and time again as they are always our favourites to see out on the water.

Four Humpback Whales were seen on our tours this week. September marks the end of their annual migration, so it’s not too long until we stop seeing the most acrobatic whales on the planet on our tours completely until next year’s journey takes them back through Kaikōura waters again.

Wednesday’s tour got to see a pod of 300 Dusky Dolphins playing with a Giant Warty Squid, also known as the Longarm Octopus Squid. These squid grow up to two meters in length and are a staple part of the Sperm Whale’s diet. A truly spectacular sight to see!

We currently have an end of winter sale on at our Retail Store at the moment, a whopping 25% off all hoodies, jackets and merino items! We need to make room for new summer stock, so head over to our online store to get your hands on some winter goodies.

REGULAR, SCHEDULED CLOSURES OF STATE HIGHWAY 1 SOUTH OF KAIKOURA

There is a possibility of short delays and it will be 30km/hour through parts of the route. Inland Route 70 remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

As we enter into the cooler winter months it is a good reminder to take extra care on the roads and to check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling.

Progress is continuing to be made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina, with the modified trailer and public jetty now being used for launching our vessel Tohora. This is due to tidal restrictions and repair work as a result of the coastline lifting by +1.0m. All our berths have now been removed. This is an end of an era but we are excited to see our new and improved marina once it is completed! The use of the modified trailer and public jetty will continue until further notice. It is anticipated that the Kaikōura Marina will be fully restored in October 2017. Below is a graphic (indicative only) of what is being restored at the marina.

Currently our available tour times are based around the tide times on the day and may differ from the tour times originally advertised, please bear with us as we continue to work toward being fully operational again. For an update on the tour times available, please contact our Customer Service team directly either by email on res@whalewatch.co.nz, phone +64 3 319 6767 or free phone 0800 655 121 (within NZ) and they will be able to help you with your inquiry.  Please note we are operating at a reduced capacity in the interim with up to 3 tours available per day. Please contact our team prior to arriving in Kaikōura to secure a space on one of our tours and to save disappointment.

KAIKOURA BUSINESS UPDATE

Kaikōura is open for business. For latest updates on accommodation, restaurant and retail information please contact the team at the Kaikōura I-Site who will be able to help you find what suits your needs during your stay in Kaikōura. 

TRANSPORT UPDATE

IntercityHasslefree Tours & Canterbury Leisure Tours have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch, as well as Kiwi Experience now having the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers.

Progress on the work being done on roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on this dedicated KAIKOURA EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Friday. Work is also starting to take place on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.