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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
March 16 – March 23 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
Brigid & Robert, Bill & Emilia, Cornelia & Peter, Ernst, Bari, Sehdi, Susanne, Zahra, Cosma, Alex & Claudia, Jaqueline, Henrietta, Thomas and Bernhard.
Our Snorkel Site
Sunday – Friday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
18 enthusiastic international travelers joined us to see the whales this week, we began the journey toward the Silver Bank early Sunday morning.
With the encounters starting Sunday afternoon, lots of rowdy groups around the banks at the moment but proving very entertaining for all.
Monday stared with groups of whale moving around the west side of the banks a lot of breeching whales throwing themselves from the water and tail slapping.
The days following were considerably exciting, with phenomenal top-side and in-water encounters. Two day of calm seas was perfect for shooting photos. The day started off with two playful sets of mother, calf and escort – the mother and escort pec slapping while the calf tail slapped and breached. This went on for almost an hour – an amazing display of the whale’s endurance and power. We followed the two groups for the morning, while other groups of mothers and calves crossed our paths. Finally one set of mother and calf seemed to settle down, so our guide Ben jumped in the water. The calf was curious and mother seemed more or less calm, but they moved on. Again, we tried to settle them down and enter the water. Again, they moved on. Not until the third time, did the escort show himself – pushing the mother on, challenged by our presence. The afternoon gave us rowdies and some amazing photos. Whales were coming so close to the chase boats, we could feel them. They bubble streamed us; tail lobbed just meters away and otherwise showed off their skills and prowess. It is incredibly humbling to see the wingspan of an escort come up through the water in between the chase boat and female.
The following morning we found another mother and calf that have been resting close to the bow of the yacht during sunrise. The small boat reaches them. At first look it seems that the mother and calf are the only whales. The calf bobs around the surface for a few breaths then all at once the mother calf and a hidden escort male surface. Usually the escort male is trying to make advances on the female however the male is calm and keeps close and calm. Once again we slide into the water. The group makes a perfect line of floating fins. There are rising coral pinnacles around the whales. A barracuda clings close to the coral. The escort rest slightly lower than the mother and calf. They pass below. The mother turns upward slightly and is looking directly at the structure we have created linking arms together. The escort passes through the narrow channel ahead of the two. The calf kicks forward as mom is right behind. We watch them pass until almost out of sight. The escort returns to trail the mother and in a tight space between coral heads the whale bends in a tight circle to follow her away.
Flat calm waters greet us again. The mothers and calf of the banks seem to be everywhere. We find ourselves on With a mother and calf that in the previous week we were able to spend a morning with. The distinct lateral markings close to her dorsal fin key the guide to the demeanor of the whale. We get a different point of view from this experience. The mother likes to sleep vertically and her calf is very playful. Her enormous fluke rests only 20 feet from the surface. Pecs flared, the mother and calf lay back to back in a perfectly vertical position. Sliding up the tail the calf comes up for a breath. Passing in front of our rudimentary line, the bobbing calf dips down again. We wait a few moments longer and the fluke raises up reaching the surface followed by the rest of the beast. The calf keeps in position under mom, the rest at the surface. Our guests are floating side by side the whales. Although protective of the calf, the mother has no problem with our eyes taking in the moment completely.
Our final afternoon with the whales turns out to be something magical. A single whales is seen close to the mothership. Driving into position, the dinghy rests close to where the whale has dove down. There is a high pitched sound resonating from the water. Even with the sound from the outboard motor, the song of the whale 50 feet below is a magical melody that reaches outwardly. The guests get into the water. Their bodies vibrate from the low bass notes that the whale creates from it’s song. Quick high pitched notes then low baritone notes are sung for over an hour with this encounter. The guests come back to the boat and each person has their story with the singer. The whole night our guests keep singing the song and laughing and sharing video clips with their time with the whale.
After a remarkably smooth crossing back to Ocean World Marina we concluded the week with a wine and cheese party up on the sundeck. We watched the sun set as we shared our favorite stories of the amazing week gone by.