Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
20 - 27 January 2018
Air temperature: 75° - 78° F
Water temperature: 78° - 80°F
Visibility: 40 - 80 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm/5mm full wetsuit & a windbreaker
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: Christy Weaver
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Sarah Pearson
Guide: Brynne Rardin
Stewardess: Eva Roman
Tanya & Adam, Sue & Steven, Cindy & Stephen, Mary Jo & Peter, Helen, Nancy, Dave, Alan, Sandy, Jeanette & Josef, Juan and Heiko
Our Snorkel Site
Sunday – Thursday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
A lively crossing from Providenciales to Puerto Plata saw the boat arrive at 0500 on Saturday morning. We prepped the yacht for our whale watching activities and our first guests boarded at 1600, not of course including our two guests, Tanya & Adam who took the crossing with us. We briefed and ate and settled in before our crossing to the Silver Bank. At midnight we pulled away from Ocean World Marina to the sounds of bachata and headed northeast to our mooring.
Upon arrival at the bank we set our mooring and briefed for the logistics of whale watching, and mentally prepared for our following morning. We were not prepared for the shock of realizing that the wreck of the Polyxeni was no more the navigational aid that it has always been, and not until we were almost upon it did we notice that it was visible just above the surface of the water.
During the course of our week we encountered some great topside activity. Females led males as they fought to gain her regard, providing some great high-energy entertainment for us all. Rostrums were brought down on top of other males approaching the surface to breathe, breaking their cycles to encourage them to leave the action. Tails were lobbed out of the water, bubbles were blown to hide the path of the female and whilst all this went on behind the female would occasionally slow and roll lifting her pectoral fins high into the air in a languid pec slap. Zigzagging across the bank with no final destination clear to us, we followed and enjoyed the spectacles.
We enjoyed a female slapping her tail repeatedly, not only very close to the main vessel but also close to our tender. She slapped her tail over ten times leading to the white of her flukes turning pink. She then led the tender into the minefield of coral heads north of the mooring area meandering around the reef that provides the protection we enjoy from the deep waters of the Atlantic.
In another encounter three whales – likely a female and two males crossed the bank, repeatedly breaching, at one point it felt as though the whale in question did it upon request when asked “go on impress us!” We tried to repeat the experience but quickly realized that it was just coincidence. Regardless we enjoyed the raw power of a 30-foot humpback whale propelling itself out of the water. This was subsequent to an encounter with two humpbacks where they both breached at the same time on a number of occasions sloughing off skin and leaving our guests amidst a rather fishy smell.
Our in-water encounters this week were all resting adults. Likely tired from their recent epic trip from the north Atlantic, one of the longest migrations, they would rest in pairs, alternately allowing one side of their brains respite. For twenty to twenty five minutes they would hang almost motionlessly rostrums down and flukes up, completely at ease. As the time came for them to breathe one would surface a few minutes before the other, circle and return to its former position and then slowly they would surface together, drawing five to six breaths before repeating the cycle a little distance away allowing us all to enjoy the in water presence of these magnificent creatures.
One of our final encounters involved a singer and whilst we were not able to get into the water with him, as he had a very irregular breathing and movement pattern we did enjoy his song through the power of our hydrophones. And so we were the first to hear the song of 2018 in the Silver Bank. It was a fantastic end to our first week with the whales this year.
On Friday morning we headed back to Ocean World Marina and as we travelled we enjoyed movies in the salon. We were back in Puerto Plata ahead of time as a result of a following sea and enjoyed a cheese and wine party in the salon; weather was not permitting, before heading out for some supper in Cofresi.
We are looking forward to our next week of whale watching – we may have some squirly weather to begin with but we are excited for the possibility of our first mother and calf encounter of the season.