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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
March 9 – March 16 2019
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Air temperature: 79° - 86° F
Water temperature: 79°F
Visibility: 30 - 70 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm full wetsuit & a windbreaker
Captain: James Wilford
Engineer: Robert Smith
Chef: Sarah Pearson
Video Pro: Rachael Lawns
Photo Pro: Ben Phillips
Whale Guide: James Whittle
Ilka & Stefan, Isabella, Manuela, Waldemar, Hildegard, Rene, Michael & Petra, Hans & Annett, Hubert, Siegfried, Ursula, Marion, Erwin & Jana
Our Snorkel Site
Sunday – Friday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
We are joined again by the German group from Waterworld lead by Manuela for this magnificent adventure. Followed by 16 enthusiastic travelers awaiting to see the whales and most for the very 1st time we began the journey toward the Silver Bank.
With the encounters starting off a little bit slow, they sure didn’t stay hidden for long. The calmest weather that we have experienced on the bank so far greeted us in the mornings and gave us amazing top side encounters. The calves were very energetic and were like jumping beans constantly breaching and trying to see how high they could propel themselves from the water.
We had a bouncing calf encounter each day allowing us to follow them around for nearly an hour each time. They would also try their luck at some tail lobbing and fluke slapping when they got a bit tired of throwing themselves from the water. The fun part was that there were some mothers that would get involved with the calves as well and show them how it was supposed to be done. Be it some breaching, fluke slapping, pec slapping or tail lobbing. On some occasions the calves would get too tired to want to swim or just get lazy that they would lay on the mother’s rostrum with their belly in the air out of the water while mom moved on a little bit before the calf would slide off and start having fun again. One calf just seemed to enjoy the feeling of being downside up and wasn’t even laying on mom, it was just plodding along the surface slowly with mom underneath and the calf waving its pecs in the air not even trying to slap them.
The escorts seemed to be very content with their choices in life as they were not being an annoyance to the mothers or the calves and at the same time they were not taking on too much of the bodyguard roll in putting themselves in between the mother and calf and us in the water. The escorts were very calm and enjoyed their time in the water. On escort was being very acrobatic in the water around the mother and calf who were just sleeping. Then when the mother and calf moved he would swim circles around them and spend lots of time at the surface with them often being the last one of the group to head down.
We managed to find a very rowdy group of 9 whales plowing through the area and disturbing all other encounters that anyone could find. They were being very playful with each other and there was a lot of bubble blowing to make bubble curtains to hinder those behind them. Some definite shoving was involved as they were very close to one another and all of them has fresh scaring on their bodies mostly on their tubercles that had been scrapped raw and one was even freshly missing his entire dorsal fin. Their backs were scratched up and their pecs were pink from some slapping and being used as battering rams to knock each other with. We followed them through the coral heads at quite the speed and enjoyed the show immensely. They lead us to the thicker parts of the coral which became too dense for us to follow and we had to call it an afternoon. We then found a different group of rowdies 2 days later that led us on the same sort of adventure around the coral heads. Only this time they didn’t lead us too far into the coral they just calmed down enough for us to stay with them until we found the female they were chasing and were able to get into the water with her while some of the males were still swimming around her. She didn’t care about them and was just laying in a vertical position with her tail near the surface and her head down deep. She was quite rested as she was only coming up to breath every 16-18 minutes.
The week built up towards the last settled encounter that we had. The mother and calve were very relaxed and spent a lot of time at the surface enjoying the nice weather and the escort was happily along for the ride either relaxing just below them or joining them on the surface for some sunshine. They stayed around for a few hours and allowed us to switch out between our two groups so we could all get some time in the water with them. The calf was rather curious and would swim near the group when the mother was at the surface with it. The mother would also come in for a good look before heading back down which gave the group some incredible opportunities to get a good look at her and her baby while still remaining a safe distance away as the mother knew just how close to come in.
With the smoothest crossing back this season we enjoyed the majority of it on the sundeck with the cool sea breeze as we made our way back to dry land. They wine and cheese party was enjoyed by all along with the incredible sunset over the mountains. Looking forward to see what the new week has to offer.