Whales New Caledonia
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Panoramische foto door Richard Chesher PRO EXPERT MAESTRO Genomen 03:32, 09/08/2011 - Views loading...

Whales New Caledonia

The World > Pacific Ocean Islands > Melanesia > New Caledonia

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Every year, in July, the humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae swim from Antarctic waters to New Caledonia. In September they swim south again. Like many visitors to New Caledonia, the whales come here to enjoy the warm springtime-like weather and to cavort in the world's largest lagoon. Like many cavorting visitors, the main recreation is the mating game. That's what is happening in this sphere image. Normally these big creatures swim alone or in small groups of two, sometimes 3 whales. But during the mating games other males come around and start showing off.

Freddy and I were sailing from Noumea to Ilot Mato yesterday. Very light winds, blue skies and calm seas - all very relaxing - until I heard a canon go off. Or at least that's what I thought it was. It turned out to be a whale close behind us smaking his gigantic caudal fin on the sea surface. We were sailing very slowly, about 2 knots, and the whales were coming up behind us, heading in exactly the same direction. One of them - a male - kept smacking the surface of the sea. Two others were swimming side by side - one of them was longer than the Moira, our 14 metre sailboat, and probably weighing twice as much. The other was much smaller - I think it was a young one, perhaps only a year old. The surface-slapping male was coming very close to the pair and then moving off. Two other whales were nearby. There was also some interesting rolling going on with long pectoral fins swishing into the glittering sunlight and big whale bodies splashing against each other.

The huge mother and the smaller whale swam slowly alongside the Moira - and I mean right alongside - I shot them both (with my 8mm fisheye lens and Canon 7D) just as they dove together and then completed the sphere image by racing around Moira's deck, taking the rest of the vista, including the other whales - one of them right behind us in the glare of the sun.

I stitched the image as soon as we anchored at Ilot Mato and uploaded it to 360Cities.net. Then I went whale hunting on google and found a really interesting paper about New Caledonia humback whales tracked from space. The researchers followed the movements of humpback whales and their track was, in many ways, very similar to the annual migrations of the far more common giant sea creatures, Yachtus yachtus. Some of these are very big indeed - 30 and 40 metres long - but most are very similar in size to the humpbacks at 10 to 18 metres. Your average Yachtus yachtus swims about twice as fast as humpbacks when making the annual migration to New Caledonia and the other Pacific islands but when they arrive the yachts move about very much like the whales milling around in protected areas of the southern lagoon then moving around to other parts of the lagoon - generally alone or with one or perhaps two other yachts - and in October or even November - swimming off towards New Zealand or Australia.

About a week ago the Moira anchored for the night in Baie Ire next to another yacht we are friends with. And a pair of humpback whales came into the same bay that night - they were singing quietly before going to sleep. The next morning we all went our separate ways. I'm wondering if the ones in the sphere image might include the pair that we slept with last week - still milling around enjoying the lagoon like we are.

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Panorama's in de omgeving van New Caledonia

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A: Ospreys Ilot Mato New Caledonia

door Richard Chesher, 3.9 hier vandaan

A family of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus melvillensis) live on Ilot Mato in the great south lagoon of N...

Ospreys Ilot Mato New Caledonia

B: Giant Trevally Welcome New Caledonia

door Richard Chesher, 4.0 hier vandaan

Giant Trevally, Caranx ignobilis, are big, smart, curious fish. Freddy and I nick-named this one Pose...

Giant Trevally Welcome New Caledonia

C: Ilot Mato South Lagoon New Caledonia

door Richard Chesher, 4.0 hier vandaan

Ilot Mato is in the southern part of the largest coral reef lagoon in the world. It is part of the Ne...

Ilot Mato South Lagoon New Caledonia

D: Triton Attacks Crown Of Thorns Starfish

door Richard Chesher, 4.0 hier vandaan

Killer Triton attacks Crown of ThornsMemory Bubble February 7, 2013 - Ilot Mato, Great Southern Lagoo...

Triton Attacks Crown Of Thorns Starfish

E: Finding Nemo in New Caledonia

door Richard Chesher, 4.3 hier vandaan

There's this colony of clownfish that lives just on the crest of the fringing reef at Mato. Two speci...

Finding Nemo in New Caledonia

F: New Caledonia Shark - Underwater Panorama of a Leopard Shark Stegostoma Fasciatum

door Richard Chesher, 4.3 hier vandaan

The Leopard Shark, Stegostoma fasciatus, reportedly eats small fish and molluscs. Molluscs probably m...

New Caledonia Shark - Underwater Panorama of a Leopard Shark Stegostoma Fasciatum

G: World Heritage Site New Caledonia Lagoon Coral Reef Batfish Platax Teira

door Richard Chesher, 4.3 hier vandaan

About 40 km southeast of Noumea Ilot Mato Anchorage marks the entrance into the vast southern coral r...

World Heritage Site New Caledonia Lagoon Coral Reef Batfish Platax Teira

H: Symbiosis in the Blue Lagoon, New Caledonia

door Richard Chesher, 4.4 hier vandaan

Coral reefs are all about symbiosis - the art of living together. When we look at an underwater scene...

Symbiosis in the Blue Lagoon, New Caledonia

I: New Caledonia World Heritage Site Story

door Richard Chesher, 4.4 hier vandaan

A photo story from the New Caledonia Lagoon, a World Heritage SitePhotographing creatures on a coral ...

New Caledonia World Heritage Site Story

J: New Caledonia Anchorage Aerial Panorama

door Richard Chesher, 4.4 hier vandaan

New Caledonia Anchorage Aerial PanoramaThis New Caledonia Anchorage sphere image was taken from a kit...

New Caledonia Anchorage Aerial Panorama

Dit panorama is genomen in New Caledonia

Dit is een overzicht van New Caledonia

New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.

The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.

The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.

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