Log Date: Saturday, Feb 20, 2016
Entry By: Turks & Caicos Aggressor Crew
Turks & Caicos Aggressor II
20th – 27th February 2016
Air temperature: 78° - 82°
Water temperature: 78° - 79°
Visibility: 30 - 80 feet
Captain: AMANDA SMITH
2nd Captain: TODD EMMONS
Engineer: ROB SMITH
Chef: ALISA KELLY
Driver/Guide: GRANT PATTEN
Driver/Guide: TROY SANDY
Richard, Angie, Dave, Julie, Helene, Unes, Allison, Bjorn, Heather, Brenda, Arjun, Oren, Doc, Trudy, Kim, Sam, Lauren, Scott
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Saturday afternoon rolls around with a quick Caribbean shower then the sun pokes out and it looks to be a beautiful week. As the guests start to board, the crew grabs all the luggage and delivers it to the room as the excited whale watchers all pick their lockers and start hanging their wetsuits. Once everyone is settled and has had a couple snacks and drinks, the safety briefing is delivered and then dinner is served. Ailsa cooked up an amazing pork tenderloin for supper and it did not disappoint.
Due to the high winds forecasted for Saturday night into Sunday morning, we did not depart Ocean World Marina until Sunday morning. As the sun rose, we pulled away from the dock and started the long trek over to the Silver Bank. After traveling all day, we were all relieved to see the Polyxeni, it is a wreck that we use for a navigation aid near the mooring site. As we pulled up to the mooring, whales were ready to great us with breaching and pec slapping all around the boat. We knew this would be an amazing week.
Each morning, as the guests are eating breakfast and keeping a watchful eye on the water, the crew get both tenders ready for the day of whale watching. Snacks and water are loaded, masks and fins are prepped, and cameras are carefully placed on the boats as people eagerly wait to get out on the water. Once out on the water, we all keep our eyes on the horizon looking for the tell-tale sign of whales, the blow. You are looking for a tall fountain of mist, which means a whale has come up to breath. If the whale wants to make it easy to find them, they will jump fully out of the water. To see a 30 foot, 30 ton animal, launch itself out of the water is amazing. The power and grace these animals possess is unbelievable. Other surface activity you may see is pec slapping, where they lift the pectoral fin out of the water and slap it back down repeatedly, tail slapping, and tail lobbing. The best is when a baby is learning how to do these behaviors because once they figure out how to, it’s almost like you gave a kid too much sugar and they won’t stop until the white part of the fin is pink.
Surface activity is cool but what everyone comes here for is the in-water encounters!! When we find sleepers, both adults and moms with calfs, we can quietly slip in the water and observe them while floating above. As the moms rest for about 20 minutes, the babies have to come up every 3 – 5 minutes and breathe. Once they start to come up and see us, they may start to swim around us and check us out. Imagine you are a kid and you just woke up and there are 10 brand new toys floating near your bed. It’s like Christmas morning. As the baby swims by and looks at all of us, time stops for each person and they all swear the baby looked right at them and no one else is in the water with them! It is such a magical and special experience. On the last day, we found a mom and a brand new baby, less than 2 weeks old!! The baby was so young that it hadn’t quite figured out the whole breathing and swimming thing yet so the mom has to keep lifting it up to the surface to breathe. Not to worry though, it will figure it out in the next week.
Other amazing encounters we had were valentines and singers. With the valentines, or dancers, there is a male and female whale that are basically dancing with each other in the water. Swimming very slow and nuzzling each other, we believe this is part of the courtship that leads up to mating. The singers are a sight to see and hear! They may look like they are sleeping but the song they emit is beyond description. In the water, you can not only hear the song but you can feel it in your core. The deep notes resonate through your torso and lungs and is something that you will never forget. The singing is loud enough that anyone on the tenders can still hear it above the water. Males make this sound by moving air from cavity to cavity in their skulls. All the North Atlantic humpbacks sing the same song and it changes slightly year to year!! This year’s song was the best in my opinion though!!!
After a week of swimming with these magnificent marine mammals, the tenders had to be loaded back on to the main vessel and we started our way back to Ocean World. For the last dinner out at sea, we had a special occasion with Richard and Angie celebrating their wedding anniversary!! We were honored they would share that day with us and the whales. On the trip back, bags were packed and photos shared from the week. As every one gets ready for the wine and cheese party, we just want to thank all of you for spending your vacation with us and we hope to see all of you again!