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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
10 – 17 March 2018
Air temperature: 75° - 78° F
Water temperature: 78°F
Visibility: 40 - 80 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm/5mm full wetsuit & a windbreaker
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: Alex Brett
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Brynne Rardin
Chef: Sarah Pearson
Photo Pro: Conor Ferrin
Anne & Wayne, Dee, Alice & John, Anne & Conner, Jack, Maxwell & Caroline, John and Eric
Our Snorkel Site
Sunday – Friday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
We were delighted that Anne & Wayne Hasson joined us with family & friends this week to enjoy the hospitality and experiences of the humpback whales out on the Silver Bank.
Weather stopped play for our midnight departure, but we left Ocean World Marina early on Sunday morning and we headed northwest to the Marine Mammal Sanctuary that would be our home for the best part of the week.
We were fed well by our two chefs and by Sunday evening we had briefed all on the logistics of whale watching and were excited about heading out to get close to the humpbacks in the area.
We experienced some amazing encounters during the course of the week, mostly topside with the whales coming in close to the tender as we tracked them. Rowdy groups were one of the main attractions for the week. As females led groups of males, competing against one another for the chance to mate with her, the energy was high and the action frantic at times. The males would barge into each other, blowing bubbles to distract the others and disguise the whereabouts of the female. At times one male would rise above another and prevent his ability to reach the surface to breathe – not to cause significant harm but to put them “off their game” and interrupt their flow and make them peel off. The female would garner their attention by slowing to pec slap, rolling on to her back to bring both long fins out of the water and lethargically flinging them to the surface.
The tail action was amazing as the humpbacks were using their long pectoral fins to hold themselves in position whilst lobbing and slapping their flukes, at times they would be on their backs and others facing down, using both sides of their flukes, maybe to communicate, maybe for fun.
At times the rowdy group of males would suddenly change direction whilst we were tracking alongside and they would sweep under the tender allowing our the spectators to put cameras over the side and capture some amazing photos of up to seven humpbacks passing by. Repeatedly this occurred allowing for some great photos and videos, that we all enjoyed back onboard.
Evenings were great, with presentations about whales; anatomy and encounters, interspersed with Wayne’s experiences, both recent and past in the form of slideshows and videos.
The children onboard kept things lively as they helped with the catering and sharing interesting whale facts that are little known amongst the experts – Tumpback Hurtle – say no more.
There were some mothers and calves that were accompanied by escorts – some of those males wanted to move the family along and others that were content just to follow. On a couple of occasions a rowdy group pursued the mother and calf. One such encounter started as a rowdy group, with tail slapping, bubble trailing and pec slapping much to the delight of our onlookers. As time passed the group of seven reduced to three, the calf breached a couple of times and eventually they calmed and slowed and we were able to spend a little time in the water with mother, calf and escort.
On several occasions we were able to swim with mother and calf, to see the tactile relationship that the two have between them. It is a joy to see the calf roll up on to the mother’s rostrum and then slide over the other side; to enjoy the calf learning to pec and tail slap and breach by the mother and acquire all the skills to be a well balanced humpback whale.
We headed back early to enjoy the sights and sounds of Puerto Plata - the Cable Car, Rum Factory and Amber Museum. We all enjoyed a cocktail party on the sundeck and supper locally and reminisced on our great week of humpback whales.