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Lonely Planet's Old Salt Celebrates 20 Years

Lonely Planet's Old Salt Celebrates 20 Years Swimming With Dolphins

Cap'n Butler scans the ocean for wildlife to experience off the Bay of Plenty Coast, New Zealand.

News Release
For immediate release
September 1 2008

Lonely Planet's Old Salt Celebrates 20 Years Swimming With Dolphins

Most days for the past 20 years 'Cap'n Butler' has put to sea in the Gemini Galaxsea with plenty of enthusiastic dolphin watchers and according to the latest edition of the Lonely Planet Guide of New Zealand the experience is one of the favourites for overseas visitors.

As one of the most popular sources for information for travellers, the Lonely Planet guide is complimentary about Tauranga's plentiful supply of water-based activities including Butler's Swim with Dolphins of which they say: "The trips are always entertaining particularly with Cap'n Butler, a real old salt who protested against nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll."

Graeme Butler known as 'Butler' to just about everyone created the first swim with dolphins experience in the Bay of Plenty.

His 60 foot Gemini Galaxsea sailing ketch takes visitors from all over the globe for a day trip in search of dolphins to see and swim with. Butler's experience in the Bay of Plenty almost guarantees his sea-going guests up close and personal contact with the sea mammals and any other sea life he can find.

"She is a sailing boat, a very dolphin friendly vessel and this voyage is ecotourism at its very best," says Butler

Over the two decades he has seen some dolphin watching operators engage in what he calls 'Chuck and Chase' where they spot dolphins, zoom over and chase them and then chuck the people in the water.

"That is not good for the dolphins as they tend to become startled and their behaviour changes from a relaxed curiosity to defensive avoidance which is not good for visitors as they don't get a true dolphin experience.

"It is more about forcing man on to the dolphins rather than allowing for the dolphin's own curiosity to come up to and interact with the dolphin watcher, according to Butler.

The Bay of Plenty marine environment has such diverse wildlife that being entertained by a variety of cetaceans such as Orca, the odd baleen whale, pilot whales and false killer whales is normal.

Little blue penguins are prolific around Tauranga and Mount Maunganui and usually seabirds of all varieties, albatross included in season, accompany voyages most of the day.

Butler welcomes the mention in Lonely Planet Guide as a large percentage of his clients are from offshore.

In addition to the dolphin swim, his shipboard sailors also get an education on Bay of Plenty geography and wildlife thus making the entire day an entertaining and educational experience.

With 20 years under his belt there is not much he doesn't know about sailing in the Bay's waters.

"I love the ocean and what it has to offer, particularly the wild life that is there for everyone to enjoy.


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