Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
18TH-25TH of March 2016
Air temperature: 78° - 82°
Water temperature: 78° - 79°
Visibility: 30 - 80 feet
Captain: AMANDA SMITH
2nd Captain: TODD EMMONS
Engineer: ROB SMITH
Chef: ALISA KELLY
Driver/Guide: TROY SANDY
Driver/Guide: MATT CRAWFORD
JOHN, MARY, ANNE, CHRISTINE, MARK, KEVIN, SHIVESH, ERNST, JOHN, CHRISTINE, DEB, NATALIE, LAURA, LYNN
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
The energy in the air is electric as guests arrive for another exciting adventure with the whales on the Turks & Caicos adventure. The sky is clear and the sea is calm, and the guests are all buzzing with eagerness as our adventure is about to begin! As everyone arrives, they are greeted with a smile and a beverage, along with the first delicious meal of the week made by our wonderful chef Ailsa. After the safety briefing from Captain Amanda, we shove off and make our way to the Silver Bank!
The first morning begins with a fantastic display of a rowdy group chasing each other through the bank as we eat breakfast and get the boats ready. Once ready, we hop on the small vessels and begin to track this rambunctious group of males, all vying for the attention of one female. They take us all through the banks, tail lobbing, breaching, spy hopping, and peck slapping repeatedly, before leading us into the shallows of the protected coral area. This turns out to be one of the most exciting things they did, because now there were 6 whales in between the corals, making them slow down, giving us an unforgettable opportunity to be right in the middle with them! We spent the entire morning blessed with this encounter, and everyone could feel the energy of the whales transfer into our boat. It was such an incredible experience to be allowed to so close to part of what is assumed to be a pre-mating ritual! As we made our way back in to the main vessel for a great lunch from Chef Ailsa, we came across a mother, calf, and escort, with the mother very relaxed, laying on her back, peck slapping with both pecks! The calf was beginning to learn his behaviour from mom, and started to imitate her actions. It was adorable to see this tiny trying to get his entire peck out of the water without losing his balance and rolling over in complete circles. What a great way to start the week!
Our next morning together, we had the opportunity to follow another mother and calf. They seemed to be quite relaxed, but as we approached, an escort appeared from what seemed like out of nowhere, and quickly began ushering them along through the bank. It was clear that he took us for a challenger, and did not want us to take his potential mate. He was bubble blowing in front of our boat, and would continuously cut us off and make us change direction. We followed them for about an hour before they became a bit tired, which allowed us the opportunity to slide into the water with them for a fantastic close encounter! It was so beautiful to see the calf tucked under the mother’s rostrum, with the escort just slightly behind, keeping a watchful eye on us. After a nap, they continued racing through the banks, allowing us to follow behind. We found the same mother and calf in the afternoon, but to our delight, a pod of around 30 spinner dolphins cruised through, playfully jumping and spiralling around our boat! What a nice surprise!
Wednesday brought us an extremely exciting day of top side encounters. Another bright and sunny day with a lot of whales cavorting near the Aggressor, and both tenders get onto the rowdy groups very quickly. One of the groups had up to seven whales at a time! Also noteworthy is simultaneous pec slapping, tail lobbing, and breaching, as well as several different whales breaching at the same time. Our afternoon provides a fascinating mother, calf, and escort surface encounter, with a terribly disobedient calf. The calf was a smaller whale, and absolutely determined to do anything other than what mom wanted him to. He would begin breaching repeatedly, in no particular direction, and then would start tail lobbing towards our small vessel. The mother and the escort were quite relaxed until the calf would swim a long distance away, which when it became too far, they would tail lob to get his attention to come back to them. |We had the privilege of spending three full hours with these beautiful animals before returning to the Aggressor for cocktails and a delicious grilled dinner on the sun deck at sunset.
Our good weather and calm breezes continue for us on Thursday, and one of our boats spent the first part working some sporadic encounters before finding a slow moving mother and calf. At first, they do not let us approach them very easily, so we keep our distance and view their behaviour behind them. However, after about an hour, they began to accept us, and what seemed to get a bit curious about our vessel as well! Every few minutes, the calf would surface, coming closer and closer to the vessel, catching his breath, and then heading back underneath mom. As the mother grew fond of us, she began to display her gigantic tail with a serious of tail slaps, top which the calf began to imitate. He struggled to get his tail all the way out of the water, and would often fall over to one side. It was so incredible to watch the mother teach him tail slapping, and even more exciting once he finally learned. As he grew more confident with each slap, it was clear that he wanted to show off for us, and began wildly and very quickly tail slapping over and over! It was almost as if he was saying, “Look what I can do!” He would slap his tail about 20 times in a row before taking a break, only to shortly return to the surface to display this behaviour again. What an incredible way to spend the day!
As the sun slowly creeps towards the horizon, we make our way back to the vessel for cocktails, another exquisite dinner from Ailsa, and to be entertained with a great movie that Troy has put together. The morning brings us good weather for a nice crossing back to Puerto Plata, and an end to another fantastic week with the humpback whales!