Pelagic life off New Zealand

Dec 29
Progress here is painfully slow and it’s beginning to wear on me so I’m trying to keep occupied. The wind has just stopped completely and we are becalmed. Once upon a time I could take this, no problem, but not so much now.

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Fairy Prion. Source: Wikipedia

I have been doing some research about these quick little birds that are the only birds around the boat for the last few days. I have finally identified them as Fairy Prions. Identifying pelagic birds is a bit more difficult than terrestrial birds because they never land or stay still. I have three sea bird ID books on board and the Prion is in two of these books. Identifying then by site of course is first, but it is amazing how close the different types of birds are. There were three different types of Prions but only the Fairly Prion was shown on the identifying maps as being any where close to the northern end of New Zealand. They are  smaller than our sea gull at home and a little bigger than a Bonaparte’s gull, similar in colour, but with more light grey than white. Their flight is some what erratic but they have no trouble with the big waves darting back and forth. They also are the only birds I have run into that make a sound. Its a cheep cheep and sounds like a young chick rather than a mature bird. They always seem to be together with at least one other and often three or four.  Their wing tips and tail have black bars on them. At the moment they are it for the birds around the boat and are very welcome. I imagine when and if I ever get closer to shore there will be many other types of birds.

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Striped dolphin. Source: Wikipedia

The dolphins around the boat last evening were Striped Dolphin according to my Princeton Field Guide to Whales and Dolphins. I thought there were two different types because of the size difference but the guide suggests they are a combination of adults and juveniles, which makes sense.  Their distinctive markings are a pale grey stripe leading from their bill back down their body which is almost black. This stripe looks like it was air brushed in place.

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Krill source: Wikipedia

The other thing I saw in one of my deck watches last night was thousands of illuminating red eyes switched on by WW II’s wake. This I imagine could have been krill. I also passed a shark the other day just lazily swimming along this tell tale fin cutting the water in a lazy pattern.

The fickle wind is back now and we are coming your way slowly but surely. Life can be very interesting and beautiful out here but one thing is for sure you must take it as it is – sometimes beautiful, sometimes becalmed but always all around you. I sure could do with a chip of choclate. Maybe I can settle for a graham cracker and Nutella.

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Graham Cracker Source: Wikipedia …just for fun


  1. Glenn and MaryLou — another fascinating journey for me to follow from my desk chair. Thank you for writing so honestly and eloquently about your voyage. You will be reunited very shortly, from the looks of it. Happy new year. Melissa Anderson

  2. Just caught up with your journals Glenn and as always, I am intrigued by your special ability to share magical moments at sea with such passion and spirit. I am proud to have come to know you and MaryLou. Wishing you the best in the days ahead and, May the spirit of water and the spirit of wind guide you along till your ship comes in. Sincerely, Ellie Dufresne


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