On an errand, and heading towards Owhiro Bay on Wellington's south coast, I was surprised to see people on the beach - it's winter, and the cold wind means it is not a pleasant place to linger.
As I drove closer I saw a large body swimming close to the water's edge. The impressive dorsal fin explained the excitement. By the time I had stopped the car there was nothing to see at the beach, but people were perched on the rocks opposite, and others were walking and running along the road, heading along the coast.
This is what the excitement was about -
Three dorsal fins - orca (killer whales) were swimming along the rocky shore. Someone said there were five altogether - tantalisingly close but elusive. It was really difficult to catch the moments when more of their bodies were visible.
They were swimming around the rocks - so near and so far. Their movements were so smooth, they moved so fast! There were cameras and phones aplenty in action as people attempted to capture their sightings.
This gives some idea of scale.
These are large impressive beasts, and there was a happy buzz of excitement among the people who ran, clambered and stared, all for momentary glimpses.
Well, I didn't get any good photos, but I hope that these snaps convey some of the awe that is available to us, and that many people respond to so readily. We are so very lucky in Wellington to be visited by orcas.
World Oceans Day (8 June) has just passed, and the news we get about what is happening to the oceans is very disturbing - the water temperature is rising much more quickly than was projected, and the impact on life in the sea - these vast expanses of water that make our planet so distinct - is being profoundly affected. Many of us are moved by the life that is threatened - excited, impressed, delighted, curious, fascinated. I hope that these orca visits help us also to be very active in respecting and caring for the quality of the oceans and the precious marine life sustained by them.