Saturday 15 June 2013

Squidoo Thoughts: Warning, Scary Criticism

I'm posting this as a response to this post on Squidoo, as my comment was deleted and I was banned* for it. As people wanted to read it, I am reposting (and thank you to all the comments and support, guys, it does mean a lot). I have not edited the following, not even for typos, though I would if it was "for" a blog post, rather than just as a record. 

Alright then. Let’s break this down. Because while this is acknowledgement, and that’s nice, there’s nothing here promising any kind of fix or solution. (Bonnie, we know you’re the spokesperson who gets all our flak, but I ultimately have no idea what decisions making power you have, and there’s nothing here that couldn’t have been written by someone with no power to change anything).

“Bugs happen. It’s the reality of working on a live site (we don’t have downtime) and even with testing (which we do) it’s not a perfect science. Our team does work very hard to communicate problems…”

Yes, bugs happen. We get that. But most of the problems aren’t bugs, they are major broken issues that simply don’t work on most lenses. That’s not a bug, that’s a *broken feature*. And considering the scale of the bugs that we have come to expect, that should probably indicate a serious deficiency when it comes to beta teasting.

And more practically, if it is known that new changes = vast numbers of bugs, it makes sense to communicate that there WILL BE problems (i.e. that there will be a change), not just that “we changed it already, and oops, there’s a problem”.

It doesn’t matter if you think you have the best developers in the world. The data on nearly every change ever indicates that they, or your testing process, are NOT the best they could be. So it makes sense to build a little room to move into the system.

“Q: I hate the new changes. Why don’t you listen to lensmsater suggestions about new features?
*lensmaster. ;P

“…we had a lot of requests for a Coffee theme which we implemented. We’re also reducing the size of the Amazon product when you have only one item in your Amazon Module based on your feedback. These changes should be live soon.”

How on earth is a coffee theme on the same level as removing the ability to write content as before in certain parts of your lens and BREAKING CONTENT? A better analogy would be arbitrarily removing popular themes. Actually, no, it’s more like adding a bunch of flashing banners and a garish moving border on the DEFAULT theme.

The suggestions that everyone is screaming about aren’t ‘make a few cosmetic changes to pretty the site up’ or ‘add a fun new thing’. They’re “why did you break this thing nobody anywhere ever who actually uses Squidoo wanted you to break?” They’re ANTI-suggestions. And “please stop breaking things and give us warning if you are going to remove a bunch of options and BREAK OUR CONTENT” is feedback that is only sporadically being acknowledged and is generally being poorly implemented if acted on.

“Q: Are you trying to push veterans off of Squidoo? I’ve had a lot of my old lenses locked.
A: Absolutely not. Squidoo is a big place and there’s room for everyone. We value veterans and newbies alike. ”

I doubt many people seriously think Squidoo wants to kick off people who’ve been on here a certain amount of time, so addressing it as if it’s a serious question is fallacious. The real question is “why is Squidoo acting like this? Does it not realise it is completely alienating everyone? I know it can’t be doing this on purpose, but how can it not realise?”

“Q: Why should I make new lenses?
This is an easy question. Because new fresh content matters.”

Let’s rephrase that: Q: Why should I keep making new *articles on Squidoo* as opposed to elsewhere?
A: Because fresh content is good for Squidoo. That was a complete non-answer.


Essentially, it’s not the ‘write better quality’ that most people are upset about. They’re upset about the functional stuff; the fact that the filters aren’t a good guide or easily fixed, the locks without warning, the content getting broken outright, the loss of perfectly handy options and arbitrary changes to lens structures and appearances at a time when they are already dealing with a bunch of other issues.

If Squidoo can’t cope with changing stuff, it shouldn’t be changing this much stuff. And who cares if larger spotlight images (which has been brought in and complained about ALREADY this year! Seriously, stop pushing the same thing and acting surprised at the getting the same reaction, and then ‘graciously’ undoing it again) bring 5% more clicks if it breaks 20% of lenses.

I have not had any locked lenses, and very few of my lenses have hit the filters. One was greenlighted instantly, as it clearly didn’t deserve it, I haven’t even bothered touching the others. I actually liked the black bar discovery bar (don’t like the floating one, though). I know the payout was scarily low (my worst in three years) but that we’re still riding out the massive changes from a couple of months ago.

I’ve come out of this stuff better than the vast majority of people – and I’m STILL considering leaving Squidoo, moving out of my comfort zone, because Squidoo has stopped offering the things I came here for.

Because I can’t trust Squidoo not to stuff my content with ads if I forget to fill in the discovery module. Because I can’t trust my content not to get flagged, and for it to get fixed if I do (and I really, really, really hate using the “special email” options, because 1) I HATE EMAILING PEOPLE and 2) it’s hugely unfair on the many non-Giants and non-comfortable-with-harassing-staff people). Because I can no longer trust the Amazon modules not to get changed on me again. Because I can’t trust all my content not to get broken or hidden or deleted when a module is ‘improved’ by limiting its options (e.g. poll module, Amazon module, my lenses module, About Me module). Because I enjoy the flexibility I had here, and that is being curtailed at every turn. And because I don’t know when these changes will come out, or why.

Stuff that helps? Asking “is this changing actually necessary?” not “can we do this? yes? awesome!”
Asking the actual community about the minor stuff that isn’t about massive sitewide spam removal.
Acknowledging issues in advance; such as “there WILL be bugs” and “payout’s going to be painful, sorry, here’s what the data looks like for the following month” instead of pretending you don’t even pay us and letting all that discussion be unofficial. Making sure you aren’t BREAKING PEOPLE’S CONTENT. Not running all over the place panicking like hubpages did when they got slapped making random changes and nofollowing stuff and deleting and breaking things.

I really, REALLy hate being one of those people who piles onto announcements complaining. But if *I have had enough* (who has not lost any lenses, who is looking forward to better sales this month and next, who DOES NOT DEPEND on my online income but does it largely for fun, at least in comparison to many here, who have a lot of patience with changes, who has so many different kinds of lenses that most changes will hurt AND help me….); when I realised that my reaction to the removal of *existing formatting* was “hmm, okay, were can I move this article/put this other article…WAIT, Squidoo just stopped being my default?”. That’s a sign that I’ve been pushed too far, and I’m following a lot of other people who were affected far more than me and snapped far sooner.

*Initially banned from both the blog and the forums. I can now post comments on the blog, but am still banned from the forums. Don't ask me what's going on there! 

If you want to read everything, including other people's deleted replies, I reposted it all to the forum here. If you're looking for that time I was banned from the old forums, that would be here.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Critique Competition for Article Writers in the SquidU Forum

I am running a contest over in for the most best and awesome critique-giving person.

I am bribing people with prizes.

Basically, I want you to go critique three or more articles/pages/lenses/leafs/hubs and/or post your own stuff up for other people to critique and/or nominate (via a private message on the forum to me) your top picks.

You can get an overview of the forum here on this lens I wrote about it, and you can follow the thread with the full rules and discussion here.

Whether or not you're interested in taking part, this is a great chance to get your stuff critiqued if you're looking for useful feedback. There are prizes for the top two critiquers, and a random draw prizes for somebody who sends in a nomination.

Prizes are funded entirely from my art commissions, so thank all those nice people that have commissioned me at some point.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

 A dark and historical dash through Victorian London

Dodger is an alternate historical story set in Victorian London. Written by the ever amazing Terry Pratchett, it features international plots, a dashing working class hero, strong minded women and many of the amazing people that inspired some of his most memorable Discworld characters.

You can buy Dodger here or read my full synopsis and learn about some of the real people that show up!

Buy Dodger from...
If you've never read anything by Terry Pratchett, then this is a good one to start with (if the genre is to your taste).

 Otherwise, check out:

Munchkin: The parody card game: Guides to the amazing silliness that is Munchkin

Munchkin is one of my favourite games - it's silly, full of backstabbing and co-operation and comes in a dozen different flavours! You can pick any of the variants to start playing and buy expansions for each - or mix them up! (If you've played Fluxx, it's like that... only more complicated and D'n'D flavoured).

Check out my shopping and playing guides to get started with an awesome game (or decide which version to pick up next).

There's the basic Munchkin Fantasy
Some guides by other people
Some extra stuff by me
And then there are all these awesome variant versions

Gerald Durrell, Writer and Animal Collector

The witty and wonderful Gerald Durrell dedicated his life to animal conservation
Gerald Durrell was an amazing conservationist who collected and studied animals from childhood, went on collecting expeditions for zoos all over the world and finally established his own zoo dedicated to conservation on Jersey.

He was a bestselling author, writing wry, enchanting tales of his animal adventures and is probably best known for the autobiography of his childhood, the Corfu Trilogy.

I grew up reading his books and they had a huge impact on me; not only did they introduce me to so many strange and wonderful creatures but they instilled basic principles of conservation and animal care.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Not So Stupid Squidoo Answers: How Does the Pending Money on Your Dashboard Work?

 I'm running an informal Stupid Questions thread over in the forum, for all those questions that start off "this is probably a stupid question, but...". The following answer is really long and something that confuses a lot of people, so I figured it was worth its own blog post.

GreekGeek (of this far more useful Squidoo SEO and Analytics blog) asked:

Explain how the $$ column works. When does money get listed there, and when is it removed?

The $ column on the dashboard shows a pending estimate of confirmed money earnt by each lens. Lensrank money doesn't go there because a) it's not 'confirmed' and b) it makes sense to have sales and ad earnings reported separately anyway.

This money shows up as soon as the third party site passes the information to Squidoo; so as soon as items ship for Amazon, once a month for eBay and Cafepress/CJ. It will then sit there until that money gets paid out, which can be up to two paydays/months later for Amazon (cause that shows up straight away), but is usually the next week for eBay (cause it doesn't show for so long) and I think Cafepress is the same as eBay.

We do get accurate sale and earning reports in the stats of each individual lens, but we didn't used to. The stats have improved, the dashboard hasn't changed in years. When I started, Squidoo still wasn't reliably in the top 8.5% Amazon tier; or people weren't sure it would be. These days it always is. The estimate on the dash dates back to (I assume) before Squidoo could guarantee a higher commission, whereas it knew it would get the lower one (e.g. 6%).

The actual amount is 67% of what is really sitting in the 'earnt' tab. Or really close to that. Which may be random chance, but it comes pretty close to the difference between 3% and 4.25% (i.e. our share of Amazon commissions under the 'easy' to get 6% and the current 8.5%). The other sites don't really count, because it was built around Amazon and Amazon is the one that reports reliably enough for it to matter. It doesn't entirely make sense, unless the estimate proportion changed historically (or they brought it in when Squidoo could guarantee 4% so people could be happily surprised by 6% (or rather, 2% and 3%) - which does exactly match). It's definitely built into the algorithm somewhere, because it does it for all money that is attributed to a lens. 

And any monies paid out on payday will disappear from the dash. So the only reliable estimate is noticing how much it drops by the next day, and deducing that the remainder is mostly the last months earnings that are still pending.

So, $$ column: 
  • pending royalties that a) Squidoo knows about and b) have been confirmed/shipped/paid out by site to Squidoo
  • does not include ad money cause that's calculated independently of your lens and won't happen for another month after this one anyway
  • Amazon sales will sit there about two months, other monies will sit there about a week, depending on when payday is
  • the actual time of sale/time of commission clearing may not match up perfectly to the payday times. Usually Squidoo's paydays are a little bit further apart than the 'clearance' times so you'll get the commission whether it was at the beginning of the month or the end, but it's a little messy. Also the payday month is not the same as the calendar month, cause it's 15th to 15thish rather than 1st to 1st.
  • So, dash = rolling snapshot of current confirmed earnings that have not yet been paid out.
  • Will include upcoming payday earnings which will disappear from the total (and the lenses) once paid.
  • Will also include recently earnt monies that won't be paid until next payday. Checking your total right after payday will give you a good prediction of the following payday (and you know that if it goes up before that payday arrives, that money will be for the FOLLOWING payday yet again). 
  • Prediction won't include the monthly reporting sites like eBay, but you could write the number down and then add however much it jumps by when the eBay update arrives and that's probably not worth tracking closely (cause you'll be about to get paid then anyway), but you can certainly estimate it in your head.
  • Used to be the main way of tracking sales before updated stats tabs/points. The earnings column used to not show shipped earnings.
  • Was built to track Amazon sales, doesn't work so well with the other sites, at least for our purposes. All monies get treated the same when they show on the dash.
  • Estimate is based on either a random amount or the Amazon tiers and probably dates back to when Squidoo only got 6% (or only wanted to promise that, even though it was getting 7 or 7.5%)

So if you look at your pending total, you can know:
1. It's just Amazon (unless it's right after eBay updated and you had a bunch of new $$$ appear)
2. Half (or whatever) was earnt last month and will be paid out to you in the coming payday. Whatever is currently rolling in will be paid out the payday after.
3. That, barring returns and weird stuff, that money is confirmed, shipped, sales.
3. That you can add half again to the total for your actual earnings.

You Should Also Probably Read:

Birdwatchers are out to get us, and Bird Drawings from Melanesia and Norfolk Island

While travelling I realised that birdwatchers are actually deadly assassins and I drew a lot of birds from my photos.

Both of these are now up as lenses, so if you like sketches of albatross and robins, or want to know why you should be wary of birders, check them out.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Beware of Coconuts

The most important thing I have learnt while travelling is just how dangerous the coconut actually is. Please. It's incredibly important that you read this article about how coconuts are trying to kill us all.

Day 1: A Mob of Mollymawks

Following my adventures across the pirate infested high seas of New Zealand, the terrifying unknown of Norfolk Island and the mysterious, sea serpent haunted waters of the Solomons.

 Day 1 At Sea: Tuesday 26th March

The ship left Port Lyttleton at 6.05 am, behind schedule. It was meant to leave at midnight, or preferably 6pm the day before, but had been having an engine inspection and there had been problems putting the engine back together. Most reassuring!

I nearly missed breakfast, but the staff found me something. The meal times are quite strict, as they feed the staff and visitors on a rota, and clean up in between. It feels a bit like a school camp.
Land ho!

The ship was moored a few miles out from land, close enough to see where the houses are. The sea was very calm, with little wind, which was both a joy for the sake of personal comfort, and a pity, as few birds were moving much.

Afterwards, I wandered outside, to find a few people avidly watching the first birds of the trip. I promptly dashed back inside for my camera, and returned. Four brown and white petrels floated off the starboard bow, speckled and piebald. You can tell petrels from gulls because they're just cuter, with rounder faces and beaks, like adorable seagulls. They tend not to have the sharp divisions in the distinctive above and below colouring divide that most seabirds have. These ones were Cape Petrels, and all they seemed to care about was floating around on the surface, moving around leisurely. The guide referred to them as “pintardos”, which I thought was a bad joke, but apparently is one of their names. 

Cape Petrels!

 After a bit, there was an announcement that something was happening off the stern (a lady next to me thought they were fishing off it – on making our way down narrow steps and around the stack Zodiacs, we discovered they were in fact throwing fish off it!). Everyone lined the railings or milled around behind; only about eight people could actually see anything. It turned out that there was a single Buller's Mollymawk (albatross species) bobbing lazily around, grabbing at the scraps being thrown down. The petrels wandered in on the starboard side, making desperate dashes in to grab bits of fish, often duckdiving their full bodylength under. There was very little wind, and the seas were calm, so the mollymawk had a lot of trouble getting out of the water. It was reduced to lazily wandering over and ducking its head under, or making flapping runs whenever it thought a petrel might get there first. By the end of it, the petrels were actively dashing away from the thrown fish, flapping to get up speed.
The Buller's Mollymawk chasing off a Cape Petrel

Nevertheless, everyone was pretty excited, these being the first birds of the trip, and hung around the whole time. I had to actually climb up and perch uncomfortably in a nook at the edge, just to see anything.

During this time, some Hector's dolphins were spotted, making their way towards us from the direction of land. Actually, they were more like Hector's Dots, as all we'd see was the dorsal fins occasionally, as they came up for air. We'd keep looking for them, but they veered off while still too far away to admire properly, leaving us with the lazy mollymawk and the now disinterested petrels. A couple of the dolphns did show up in front of the boat, giving me a chance to take a photograph,and possibly to see if we were worth investigating further, but apparently not, as they immediately swam back to join the rest.

Eventually the mollymawk tired of taunting us with maybe doing something interesting, and paddled lazily off. The only other birds around were about five ordinary gulls, which floated several hundred metres away. Occasionally, someone would say something like “can we get the gulls over here?” and tauntingly, a gull would actually fly over and continue past. The guide actively tried to encourage them, in the hope that they'd attract more birds over, but they just weren't interested.
Take off! The Buller's Mollymawk actually exerts itself for food.

After a while, the staff decided to try to tempt the birds in with a magic mixgture of rice crispies soaked in bright orange fish oil. They stirred it up in a bucket, to general amusement, then tossed it over the side. We all watched the little dots and the swirls of shining oil, as it floated slowly away over the waves, towards the birds. As if summoned by our hopes, a Giant Petrel came soaring in like a great dark albatross, stirring up the gulls. It tracked across our wake a couple of times, as if drawn by the delicious fish oil, then left.

Giving up on the sluggard local birds, the ship started moving, powering quietly and steadily away from land, as if the captain was hoping to spot something and pretend he'd been aiming for it all along. Every ten minutes or so, we'd pass a bird, bobbing around, or a bird would pass us, and the remaining hopefuls lining the sides would rush to get their cameras out. We passed an albatross, probably the same one that had paddled away and left us before. After we had left it behind, it came soaring past to catch us up and overtake us, followed by a storm of camera clicks. It gave us a wide enough berth that I doubt many of the photos were any good, even the ones from cameras with lenses as long as your arm.

We're heading to Kaikoura next, were there may be whales. The ship stays about twelve miles out from land, which you can see misty and low in the background.

After lunch, the boat kept grumbling steadily onwards, the quiet rumbling coming up through my feet everywhere I went. I'm the only person going barefoot at the moment – my feet were instantly stained black with grime. The crew washed the decks while we were eating, but too late for my stained soles.

Most people are hanging out quietly outside. Down the back is quiet and warm, with a good view of the birds coming up in our wake and overtaking us. They tend to sneak up on you, dipping low among the waves and then soaring past. If you can see them coming, you get time to train your camera on them and hope they'll fly near enough for a good photo. Most don't. The closest so far was a petrel, I turned from following a distant mollymawk to find it wheeling almost directly overheard. It took great delight in soaring around in circles from boat to sky to water, always too fast to capture, before flying away.

There's not much talking; a few anecdotes about birds, murmurs identifying a species, and the odd cry of warning as a bird is spotted. Everyone's just enjoying the sun or waiting for more birds.

There are a suprising number of birds coming past. Most are too far off to accurately identify, but you can tell that they're mollymawks, shearwaters and petrels, of various species. Someone thinks they saw a Royal Albatross. I don't think they're deliberately coming past the boat, with the excetion of the Cape Petrels which enjoy swooping around in looping aerial displays while checking us out, as looking off into the distance, you can usually spot more birds. I imagine a sort of giant net of birds, each racing over the ocean, or flirting amongst the wabes, keeping its distance from the next bird. They aren't all loners; we have had a couple of pairs swirling around each other. I couldn't tell if they were mollymawks or giant petrels, as one was quite dark. Off in the distance, occasional clouds of shearwaters could be seen. Sometimes one or two would come in close, but most stayed on the edge of sight.

We kept going straight through the Kaikoura Trench, in order to get back on schedules (and because there weren't many birds around). Towards evening, we spotted larger numbers of birds winging past, and soon saw they were heading to a boat pulling up its nets. Our staff decided to try and compete, and lure away the mob to our boat. It took awhile, with only a couple of White-capped Albatross paying somewhat desultory attention, but we managed to attract four or five by continually throwing lumps of fish over. And then, suddenly, the sea behind us was full of birds! And that was the next half an hour, lumps of fish being thrown behind, to be swooped upon by Sooty Shearwaters and albatross, while a great tail of birds floated out in a white and grey and brown gaggle behind. This really was a mob of albatrosses, with six species showing up.

White-capped Albatrosses coming in for fish

They were dominated by the Whitecapped Albatross, with a handful of Salvin's, and a few lone representatives from other species (Buller's, Northern and Southern Royal and Wanderer). The little cape petrels were back again, zigzagging about and dodging the camera lens with buoyant glee. They looked exceptionally tiny among the giant albatrosses, and didn't attempt many grabs for fish. 
Grrr! My fish! A Cape Petrel lunges ahead of a White-capped Albatross.

Sooty Shearwaters were much in evidence at the chumming, charging up the front and doing their best to snatch away tidbits before the albatrosses caught up. They were quite delightful to watch, as they would often dive right under the water, leaving you wondering if they would come back. They were middling sized amongst the birds.

An albatross dives after fish.
A solitary giant petrel turned up in the evening, keeping back out of the way and staying in the company of the albatrosses. A couple of the Buller's Albatrosses' turned up for the chumming, and were extremely noisy, squawking in a most indecorous fashion, attempting to intimidate the White-capped albatross away from the fish.

The Northern Giant Petrel, just landing.

There may have been a little white-fronted tern or two, further back; we could see it bobbing, and then flying away, silhouetted by the setting sun.

Eventually the light got a bit too low to continue, and the birds got too tired (or too full!) to bother keeping up anymore. 

Lots of birds following the boat!

We ended just in time for the evening bird list to carry on almost on time! (in which everyone more or less agrees on what was seen and how many of them; the staff generally have a good idea, and a few of the more experienced birdwatchers chip in with the rarer contributions or to round up numbers. There's a rule that three people need to see it (or have a photograph as evidence) for it to count, to the slight frustration of the more experienced birders!

Another White-capped Albatross
Unfortunately, I've discovered that my new little laptop – or possibly the Linux Mint 13 I've installed on it – doesn't notice my SD Cards. It can tell I've done something, as the lights change, it just doesn't read them. I'm going to see if the Ship Laptop will let me transfer photos to my USB stick, so I can sort them out as I go. The Ship Laptop is here for the sole purpose of satellite email, which is very pricy! I doubt I'll be using it for that, especially as every byte will count. There should be internet access in either Norfolk Island or at Port Noumea, New Caledonia, at which point I will submit my final assignment (on information technology, ironically) and reassure my ardent admirers and family that I am still alive.

That night, everyone headed to be pretty quickly after the evening recap wrapped up. I hung around upstairs drinking peppermint tea and reading bird books, then stepped outside briefly. Without the sun to take the edge off, it was blustery and cold, but the lovely full moon cast everything into stark silver and black shadow.

Some Species Highlights
  • Buller's Mollymawk – Thlassarche bulleri
    The first albatross of the day, with a nicely distinctive striped beak. I got some great photos of the very first bird, which was turned into three or four drawings. It's a smaller albatross, at 80cm and is endemic to New Zealand. It tends to follow boats around and suffers heavy losses due to trawl/longline fishing
  • White-capped Albatross: By far the most common bird towards the end of the day, it was bold and lively during the chumming, charging straight up the front and crashing into the water, head down after the food and wings raised awkwardly in akimbo Vs. 

  • Salvin's Albatross: nice and bold, with distinctive grey heads, these competed with the White-capped for thrown fish.
  • Southern & Northern Royal Albatross: We only saw a few of these, with one of each showing up for the chumming. Sadly, both were rather shy, and insisted on staying well back. They would come soaring up the wake occasionally in order to keep up, but always landing about ten metres away, and then just hobnobbing with the other birds until they'd floated out of sight, and then repeating the process.
  • Gibson's Wandering Albatross (Toroa) :The biggest flying bird in the world, this one got everyone excited, but, like the Royal Albatross, it stayed back, serenely swooping back and forth across the wake in imperious solitude as it inspected the disturbace in its realm.

Other Birds

  • White-Fronted Terns are lovely elegant things, especially compared to the albatross!
  • Misc brown shearwaters that I can't tell apart: Fluttering Shearwater, Buller's Shearwater and Hutton's Shearwater
  • The Sooty Shearwater is nice and dark, though!
  • Skuas: We saw two Skua species, which the birders with the really good binoculars and giant cameras where quite excited about; an Arctic and two Long-tailed. Both stayed too far away for me to see much.

  • Northern Giant Petrel: A couple of these soared past, one joining the chumming and staying back out of the way. It's a dirty brown bird, that looks like a cross between an albatross and a dodo
  •  Gulls – Black-backed (Kelp) gulls were sitting around on the water in the morning, but were too wary of the albatross (and too lazy in the lack of wind) to come over to the boat.
  • The Cape Petrels/Cape Pigeon/Pintado/Titore are adorable little things. They fly in rounded loops, and seem to like landing in the lee of the ship.They are very distinctive, mottled brown and white, little birds, very like seagoing pigeons. 

Non-flying marine life:
A Hector's Dolphin

  •  Other than the small pod of Hector's Dolphins, there was a distant humpback whale, a little blue penguin, occasional New Zealand fur seals and Dusky Dolphins.