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Oceanic encounters in New Zealand

June 07, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact.

Marie's blog:

Hello! Marie here, writing from Blenheim. The weather forecast is rainy with a small chance of sunshine, and it is entirely too cold. Luckily, the clouds look amazing as they spill down the mountains, so I forgive them for soaking me.

Since I last checked in, I have been very busy. We left Christchurch and spent two nights in Kaikoura. Kaikoura is beautiful, by the by. It’s a little town on the coast, and I have rarely seen such amazing scenery. The beaches – though not at all like the white sand of the Caribbean – are stunning, with smooth grey stones and wild, blue-green swells.

Before leaving Kaikoura, our group attempted to participate in the famous wild dolphin encounter. In theory, a company takes a group out in their boat and finds a pod (about 60) of Dusky dolphins. From there, people hop off the boat in their thick wetsuits (so as to not freeze to death) and have the amazing chance to interact with the playful species. The videos we watched pre-departure made my giggle in anticipation. Most unfortunately, the dolphins had not been out to play in a few days, absent after a week of storms. Nonetheless, we geared up in the hopes that we would get lucky ... but we did not. However, all was not lost. Out on the boat, we saw two sperm whales, a few playful seals and a surplus of huge, hungry albatross. We were graced with the presence of two Dusky dolphins, who swam quite close to our boat. Finally, we cruised our boat past a rock on the bay which was covered with sunbathing seals.

In the classroom, we briefed on the research we will be doing on this trip. As part of our school work, we will be participating in a study ran through the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. We’re going to be collecting data for an ethnohydrology project. This will consist of finding three New Zealand natives to help us complete 45-minute interviews, per person. We are aiming to find out more about how individuals feel about the water systems in their native countries. It will be pretty difficult, I think, to find willing participants, but I can do it!

Marie Manning, a global health major, will be a senior this fall. She is studying abroad in New Zealand, Fiji and London this summer.