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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
March 14 – 21st, 2015
Guests From: Rec Diving Dive Shop from Royal Oak Michigan
Coni, Dee Dee, Roger, Scott, Lisa, Tommy, Brian, Kit, Diane, Jim, Lee, Colleen, Mary Kay, Michele, Lauren, David, Bob & Evelyn
Crew: Amanda, Lowel, Rob, Ailsa, Kelly & Eva
Exposure Suit: 3mm Full to Board shorts
Water Temp: 79 Degrees F
Air Temp: 80 Degrees F
Contouring the coastline, Ocean World marina is nestled close to the foothills of Puerto Plata. There are always a row of billowy clouds that cover the coastal mountain range. It seems like that there is always music being played somewhere. The sea is calm. Small rolling waves go through the entrance channel of the marina. The yacht rests on one of the docks fingers. The afternoon light brings a golden glow in the marina. Our group from Rec Diving is ready to venture out to the Silver Banks for a week of topside and in-water experiences. With the briefing done we relax before we rev the engines in the night moon light. The marina has weekend entertainment going with a continuous stream of local music. Flashing lights makes the four leveled building of the Terrace shine a sequential pattern of purple, blue, orange and green. We turn on our running lights and the bright colors fade into the sea.
As we reach the shallow water bank of sand and coral mounts, we get our first glimpse of the whales. Blowing out to catch breath, we see one whale just ahead of us then another on the port side then one behind us. The daily life of a whale is filled with tail and pec slapping and breaching. We get to see many of these behaviors while cruising over the top of the Silver Bank. The weather is beautiful and the high clouds pose no threat. Just a wonderful day to be out on the ocean and be in the presence of these truly incredible animals. After lunch, we make our way out for our first expedition. There are several whales on the bank and our guests get a treat on the first day by sliding in the water with a mother and calf that lounge at the surface. With no wind on the surface, we get to leisurely kick in front of the massive mammal. We give her plenty of room as the calf tumbles around the front of the mother. The calf twists underwater and keeps turning downside then flaring its pecs out and swishing its fluke. Each time the calf returns to the top of it’s mother for some rubbing of rostrums with a loving pec touching mom. There is another whale underneath the pair. An escort male rests below as we have a clear outline of his body. The mother dives down slightly as the late afternoon rays of sunlight dance around each whale. With tail lifted high in the water column, the mother and calf rest below. Our group gathers together and watches as the mother begins to rise up slowly and the calf her follows her every move. The two again sit at the surface and we get to kick along side to enjoy the view.
The following day we have some great topside action with both adults and calves lifting their tails out of the water and crashing them down with an authoritative splash. At times the sheer whites of the pectoral fins are seen raised out of the water and the loud smacking sound is heard through the bank. One of our tenders was treated to an aerial show by one of the adult whales. To see a whale breach at close range is a magical experience. The excitement when you first see the whales breaking the surface water then you hear the massive animal exhale as it twist with large water stream being spun from it’s body outwardly. Their pectoral fins flare as they begin to return back into the ocean. As a finale, the whales with almost all of it’s body out of the creates such an eruption of water that one could see such an event from the other side of the bank. Our tender was quite lucky this day when not only did the whale breach once next to the boat but 15 times consecutively.
As the morning faded away into early afternoon, both tenders came together to have a once in a lifetime experience. A single male whale began to sing. Hearing the powerful song from the tender, our guide found the whale just ahead of the tender. Everyone could hear the high pitches and deep baritone sounds coming from the whale. The vibration from the whale was so powerful that our bodies vibrated as well. Some of us free dive down to get a close look and definite acoustic feel of the whale. The whale just stays and little does it know it has touched everyone of us in the water.
We were in for a real treat today. The morning started out with a tender following a mother and calf. Slowly we observed the calf slowly rising up to take breaths while doing small semicircles on the surface. Once the calf had enough air it would dip below the surface. We had our guide slide into the water to be greeted by not only a mother and calf but two other whales as well. Although we did not foresee the two-group meeting underwater, what happened next was pure excitement. The mother picked up speed at the surface as an escort male whale stayed close to the mother and calf. Two more whales came crashing in right behind us as the speed of the whales increased. After a few minutes all whales were moving at top speed. Mother and calf in front followed by the escort. Water was bubbling and churning all around as the two challenger whales kept surfacing with loud gasps of breath. The mother and calf pealed away from the group of contenders. We were surprised to find that there were two females in the group and the rowdy activities were directed to another female. Our tender slowed down with the female angling her right under our tender and she began to hang vertical with her tail coming out of the water right at the bow of the tender. Swishing her tail on the surface, one dominant male kept circling below her. Streams of bubbles were made by the male right under our tender and female whale. Just below the surface the whale would move slightly away from the tender then seconds later come right back under. The challenger male would circle from a distance trying to vie for the affections of the unconcerned female.
We had a great afternoon in and out of the water. A mother and calf moved slowly on the surface and we slip into the water as the calf and mother lay beneath us. After a few minutes, the calf comes right to the surface and in the line of our guests. Looking at all of our floating adventures, the miniature whale bobs slowly down the line of our guests. Reaching the end of the line, the female calf twists downward splaying out her bright white pectoral fins with her fluke breaking the surface. After a few twists and turns, she dives down a few feet then makes her way back up to the surface and makes another pass in front of our guests. Only within a few feet of our guests, the calf wanders out of our path and out of sight of the mother whale. As we are in the water, the mother surfaces with a loud splash. She lobs her tail in the air four times as to call the calf back to her side. Soon enough the calf leaps out of the water with a monstrous crash of water and breach. With everyone back in the tender, we spend over one hour with the mother and calf putting on a topside display of breaches and tail slaps. The calf keeps launching completely out of the water. Over 20 times the calf moves from breath to breath splashing then diving down for the next take off. Soon enough the mother settles down and hides in the waning sunlit waters. Our tender is close to where the whales dive and after a few minutes and all heads turning to find where the whales will surface, the calf splashes right next to the boat, coming up and heading straight at us with a swish of it’s tail it goes from the front of the boat to the back. The mother whale is happy just to move slowly with her calf as it continues is leaping show. At times the calf will flip it’s small tail out of the water then roll on it’s side hitting the mother whales on her rostrum. The light is falling and we need to head back to the mother ship. What a get way to spend the day!!!
Thank you to Rec Diving from Michigan for visiting us and having such a great week. Congratulations on 40 years of diving!!!
For The Ocean