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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
21 - 28 January 2017
Air temperature: 70° - 80° F
Water temperature: 77° - 78° F
Visibility: 50 – 80 feet
Captain: AMANDA SMITH
Engineer: ROB SMITH
Driver/Guide: JESS POLK
Video Pro: CONOR FERRIN
Chef: CHRISTY BROWN
Photo Pro: DAMIEN BERI
Gerhard, Ilse & Sabrina, Sabina, Katja & Fabienne, Karsten & Tarik, Linda, Birgit & Claus, Sheila & Clemens, Dave & Glen, Michaela, Thomas & Lars
Sunday - Thursday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
It was early on Friday morning when the crew departed Providenciales, Turks & Caicos for our crossing to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, in preparation for our whales charters operating out of Ocean World Marina.
Our weather was delightful, the crossing very calm and just before midnight we arrived at the marina. Our guests arrived at 4pm on Saturday morning and with great excitement we briefed our intentions and safety information, had a delightfully prepared meal from Chef Christy before settling down to a few hours rest prior to departure.
At 11.30pm we started the engines and headed out of Ocean World Marina to the beat of Bachata! Smooth seas meant a pleasant crossing and early on Sunday morning, we entered the Silver Bank, to be joined quickly with humpback whales going about their business. We arrived at our mooring and made quick work of installing our mooring for the season. The tenders were lowered into the water from their transit storage on the sundeck, whilst briefings were delivered relating to the logistics of humpback whale watching.
The afternoon took us out in our tenders, Conqueror & Predator, in search of humpback whales, and so the week began in earnest.
As we all peered out into the blue we waited with great anticipation for the first sighting of our first encounter. A couple of adult sleepers were the first order of the week. Remaining beneath the surface for up to 25 minutes they rested rising only to take long deep breaths at the surface, moving just a short distance, before arching their backs and raising their flukes, high toward the sky to expose the individual identifying pattern of their tails. Downward they sink to remain in position, flukes nearer the surface and the remainder of the body closer to the bottom, suspended nose to nose. This way they remained for the next twenty five minutes and so the encounter repeated for the afternoon.
A rowdy group created excitement as the waters boiled over the action beneath the surface. Pec slapping and tail lobbing ensued as each of the males tried to prove their worth as the mate for the female. We encountered a few of these during the week, and as we kept our distance and allowed them to act out their roles of escort and challengers they regularly brought the group close to the tender allowing an especially close view point, and then moved on. Twisting and turning, changing direction with effective ease, they kept us on our toes and delighted us with their moves as we anticipated there different directions.
The humpbacks seemed to be recovering from their trip down from the north Atlantic and as a result we experienced a number of sleeping pairs. One such pair, seemingly a female and male, allowed us to observe their rest and slumber for almost an entire day. The female, far more relaxed than the male, would rest motionless peacefully drifting in the gentle ocean currents whilst the male would move around her, occasionally coming to the surface before their 30 minute breath cycle, but always returning to the female. As he moved he would twist and turn, opening his pectoral fins and presenting his underside to the surface and our guests. The ultimate for all though was when first the male came to the surface and lobbed his tail to the side before returning to the depths to breach forth from the depths in an amazing display that delighted all. That was followed at the end of the next breath cycle with the female breaching in exactly the same way - a sure sign that the resting period was over and a more active phase of their behaviour began. To see a breach from the depths of the ocean to the air and back to the water is quite and experience and some amazing photographs and video were captured to aid our future reminiscence.
A great start to our 2017 whale watching charters has left us excited for the rest of the season. We enjoyed great crossings into and back from the Bank and have been left with a good deal of great memories. Please check in with us next week to see how we what delights we are treated to next week.