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I was looking through the Fiordland folder of my NZ pics to see what I had from Mirror Lakes (inspired by Ralph de Zilva’s effort) when I rediscovered my dolphin pics from Doubtful Sound, south island, New Zealand. When I took these, I looked at them on the laptop and wasn’t very happy with them, they all seemed over or under exposed, and I never went back to them.

This one was very over exposed but I like how it has come up, and you can even see a little exhalation from the breathing hole as the dolphin is splashing back from a jump.

Can’t believe I never gave these the proper consideration they deserve. Sadly, these dolphins are in decline and are considered likely to be extinct in the fiords within 50 years.

‘Splashdown’ was accepted for the SoJie 10

Solo’s 10th Juried Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts in the Solo Exhibition group, 18 April 2011.

Some notes from a scientific study ( of their decline:
Fiordland boasts an abundance of marine mammals, including resident populations of bottlenose dolphins. The Doubtful Sound complex population is one of three isolated groups that have been identified in Fiordland, the others being in the Dusky/Breaksea Sound complex and a northern group ranging from Lake McKerrow
to Charles Sound.

Alongside growing environmental awareness, international public interest in interacting with marine mammals has increased in recent years. This has contributed to an increased establishment of commercial marine mammal viewing operations throughout New Zealand. Another major factor fuelling the scenic cruise industry in the Doubtful Sound complex is its natural beauty and isolation.

There is strong scientific evidence indicating that the effects of vessels in the Doubtful Sound complex are impacting on the bottlenose dolphin population’s viability. It is highly likely that the existing range and intensity of impacts will lead
to the Doubtful Sound complex dolphin population becoming extinct within 45 years.

The Fiordland bottlenose dolphins are unique on an international scale for several reasons:
• Aside from the three populations in Fiordland, no other bottlenose populations
in the world are known to reside in fiords.
• They are the southernmost populations of resident bottlenose dolphins.
• These dolphins have a larger body and smaller fins than more northerly populations to help conserve heat. This is likely in order to adapt to the cold water.
Bottlenose dolphins in the Doubtful Sound complex population also have unique characteristics:
• Compared to calving in warmer waters, calving in the Doubtful Sound complex shows strong seasonality, with a peak between December and April. By comparison, populations in tropical regions calve during 10-12 months of the
• Average group size in the Doubtful Sound complex has been reported at between 16 and 20 dolphins. There have been sightings of larger groups, however, making groups in the Doubtful Sound complex larger than those observed in resident inshore populations elsewhere.
• The dolphins have distinctive social and cultural characteristics.

As previously stated, the Doubtful Sound complex bottlenose dolphin population was 69 individuals in 1994. At the end of 2006 the population had declined to 56. Although there have been rare sightings of individual dolphins in other fiords, the
Doubtful Sound group remains within the Doubtful Sound complex year round, rarely leaving the fiord for more than a few hours. Because emigration is rare and immigration has never been observed in 16 years of study, the potential exists for this small isolated population to be prone to local extinction.

Canon 1DsMkII & 24-105 lens

In the late 1970s I completed the 2 years of a 4 yr Professional Photography Cert at TAFE, but was defeated by the physics of lenses.
In 2004 I bought my first DSLR & now shoot full time with medium format digital and professional Canon DSLRs.
I provide tuition to small groups via photography workshops for small groups (max 5) and Photoshop PP classes, and conduct small group photography tours to Australian & (soon) NZ destinations.

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  • Poete100
    Poete100almost 4 years ago

    Nice capture

  • Thanks, Lorraine

    – Odille Esmonde-Morgan

  • gail woodbury
    gail woodburyalmost 4 years ago

    awesome- wished I was there !!!

  • Thanks Gail

    – Odille Esmonde-Morgan

  • lynn carter
    lynn carterover 3 years ago

    wonderful, how lucky you are to see them, great pic

  • Thanks Lynn, yes, a dolphin encounter is always a very special experience

    – Odille Esmonde-Morgan

  • maxy
  • Thanks very much for including my image

    – Odille Esmonde-Morgan

  • dinghysailor1
    dinghysailor1over 3 years ago

    beautiful!! love the colour and splash here.. also that little puff of breath!


    love the detail and
  • Thanks Maggie

    – Odille Esmonde-Morgan

  • John Banks
    John Banksover 3 years ago

    Nice shot, I think your exposure is good for the circumstance.

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