Thursday, 30 July 2009

Another Whale at Matava

According to Ngati Porou Legend, the legend of my tribe, 'Paikea' came to New Zealand from the Pacific Islands on the back of a whale many centuries ago. The whales name was Tohora and he took Paikea to the east Coast of the North Island of New Zealand near to a place now called Gisborne. This is near to where I am from.

When diving this south side of Fiji's southern most Island, Kadavu, which is known as NewZealandi lailai (the small New Zealand), I look South and think about New Zealand and my home. Today being no exception.

Mona and Steve from California were our only diving guests today, so after our first dive we decided to cruise along the water and have our tea and coffee surface interval on the boat. We sat and relaxed in the sun.

All of a sudden a splash from behind the boat. At first we thought it might be a manta ray. It was moving so fast. Our driver Mas slowed down the boat and as soon as he did we saw it surface. A Whale! Not a Pilot whale like last time, this whale was long and sleek, but it never raised its head above the water, we could only see its crescent shaped dorsal fin. Mas stopped the boat. By this point my mask and fins were on and I explained to Mona and Steve that I was getting in the water and they could join me if they wanted to. I was in.

What a strange looking animal, its nose was pointed and sharp, so different from the pilot whales. He had four huge white spots running parallel with his body from his nose to his dorsal fin. Mona and Steve soon joined me in the water and we snorkeled on the surface as the whale eyed us from below. He swam back and fourth beneath us occasionally surfacing but never taking his dark eyes of us. I was not as frozen or petrified as I was when I saw the pilot whales, we swam on the surface for a long time. At one point I saw him slowly moving towards the surface from the deep, I duck dived down to about 8m to get a better look. He swam right up to me, his head touch my feet and then my belly, I reached out my hands to touch his head as he swam under me. Three long ridges ran from his nose all the way to a twin blow hole which looked to be protected by a splash guard just like on a snorkel. Leathery skin so smooth with huge scars and scratches. He swam slowly under me and before I knew it I was holding his dorsal fin. I could see the huge white spots so closely now, they looked like scars. He continued swimming slowly as I held onto the biggest animal I have ever touched, I counted to ten. I could have held on forever but then I remembered I was holding my breath and it was somewhat important for me to surface.He wiggled his body in the water and I took that as a sign that the ride was over, so I let go. He turned around and swam beneath us again, coming and going. I was absolutely in awe of this animal and could not (can not) believe what just happened. After some time we decided to get back on the boat, but he came back, surfacing and gliding silently beneath us, so we got back in just for one last look at this amazing creature. After seeing the pilot whales I never thought I would get an opportunity like that again but here I am less than four days later with a similar story.

I later found out that the Whale that we saw was a Bryde's Whale (Pronounced Brutus), this Whale is known as Pakake in New Zealand and this type of whale can be traced back to some of the oldest legends in Maori culture.

According to Ngati Porou legend, the legend of my tribe 'Paikea' came to New Zealand from the Pacific Islands on the back of a whale many centuries ago. I bet he had an awesome trip.