The Marlborough Sounds are an eco-marine haven for a large diversity of Marine Mammals. With 52 species having been recorded in the area (of 89 worldwide).
At Cougar Line, by chance, we often come across dolphins, whales and seals as we cruise around the Queen Charlotte Sound delivering passengers and supplies to various bays and coves in the beautiful Sound.
The Marlborough Sounds are also occasionally a hotspot for the largest dolphin, the killer whale or orca. (Actually, dolphins are a sub-category of a sub-category of whales, making all dolphins whales, but not all whales are dolphins).
Recently we looked outside our office window and spotted a pod of Orca cruising in our small marina in Picton. They appeared to be hunting stingray . There was a young calf with the adults. Our office manager captured the event on video and has posted on the Cougar Line facebook page, this has been enjoyed by many people and is worth watching. There are only approx 200 Orca resident in NZ waters and they can travel up to 150 km in a day, so you need to be quick to see them when they visit.
A small number of different whales are also occasionally seen. Cook Strait is an important migration route for whales, particularly the humpback whale.
Picton is home to the National Whale Centre which opened on November 2014. The centre combines the past and supports future conservation of whales with an interactive display that is well worth a visit.