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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
March 23 – March 30 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: Amanda Smith
Engineer: Robert Smith
Chef: Chace Gaudreau
Video Pro: Sarah Pearson
Photo Pro: Ben Phillips
Whale Guide: Rachael Lawns
Aqua Firma’s Charlotte with Simon & Karen, Paddy & Liz, Peter, Chris, Jan & Rob, Nick & Lesley, Caroline & Duncan, Susanna, Karen, Annette, Shams & Sasha.
On Saturday we were greeted by the familiar face of Charlotte the Aqua Firma trip leader. She has been with us many times and her bubbly energy is very infectious. The group she brought with her this week was a mixture of returning guests and new faces. Our group was mostly made up of English people like Charlotte herself that made the long journey to us here.
Our first day started on Sunday afternoon after we made out long crossing over to the amazing Silver Banks. We kicked off the week with a large group of rowdy whales that we followed the whole afternoon. It’s very exciting to get up near the group of males who are tail slapping and making bubble curtains. We even got splashed by a whale who was tail lobbing right by the boat.
One of the true highlights of this week was when we joined a boat who had been with two sleepers all morning. This means there were two whales who was very still and only coming up to breath. We were in the water watching the two slowly and majestically rise up the breath right by us. We could see that they didn’t even open their eyes when they came up to the surface. This meant at one point one of the whales nearly swam in to a coral head. This woke both of them up but didn’t scare them away. The encounter then changed right in front of our eyes to valentine. This is one of the most sought after and treasured experiences. We watched the female roll onto her back and just stay like that. The slightly smaller male was swimming around her watching and he would also make passes and turns just below the snorkelers. While she was on her back she slowly moved her pectoral fins in a dance like way. Opening, closing and raising them up in an over exaggerated and graceful way. At one point the male went under her and she rested her head on him and they stayed that way for several minutes.
Our mothers were ever present with their calves now a good deal larger, as they grow up to one foot every month. We shared some great in water encounters with mothers and calves, even though for some of the time the conditions were so calm that the humpbacks seemed a little restless – may be with thoughts of their return journey.
On particularly great encounter with a mother and calf, also involved an escort. As the calf played on the surface the mother and escort almost joined in looking as though they were beginning to dance whilst the calf cavorted on the surface. Everyone enjoyed the spy hopping, which is always great when experienced from in the water. Another group of adults joined in for a moment leaving our snorkelers in the water with at least six whales for a short time. This led to a change in pace for the three and the guests enjoyed some great topside behaviours.
As it is our last week in the Silver Bank for 2019 and in preparation for our dive charters due to start next week, we moved at lunchtime to the East Bank to enable us an early departure. What a stroke of luck. As we lifted our tenders up for the journey back we became aware of a singer in our immediate vicinity. The haunting melody made by this lone male echoed through the boat throughout the evening. Some of our guests decided to get in and enjoy a more powerful experience by submerging themselves under the water.
Until that point we had experienced all the behaviours that the whales share with us in one week, with the exception of a singer. It was a fitting end to the week and the season as the male sung us to sleep.
We departed the bank in the early hours of Friday morning; arriving back at the marina around lunch time, allowing our guests the opportunity to visit the botanical gardens above Puerto Plata by way of the cable car.
We reconvened on the sundeck as the sun set for wine, cheese & conversation to talk about the week gone and future trips planned.
Whilst sad to be leaving the Humpbacks for the season, we are very excited about returning to Turks & Caicos to dive with our many favourite critters. Check in next week to see how we fair.