Log Date: Saturday, Mar 05, 2016
Entry By: Captain Amanda
Air Temperature: 78 - 82 F
Water Temperature - 78-79 F
Visibility - 30-80 feet
Captain: AMANDA SMITH
2nd Captain: TODD EMMONS
Engineer: ROB SMITH
Chef: AILSA KELLY
Driver/Guide: GRANT PATTEN
Guide: MATT CRAWFORD
Robert, Pat, Dean, Richard, Sue, David, Bjorn, Peter, Edwina, Ngaire, Charlotte, Jane, Michael, Janet, Jackie, Henriette
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
The air is filled with energy as our guests from the dive shop Aqua Firma in the UK arrive from the long journey, in hopes of finding the elusive humpback whale. Drinks and snacks are served while introductions are made to the crew, and then everyone settles in for a quick safety briefing before Chef Ailsa’s first phenomenal meal of the week. As the wine flows, we shove off just after midnight to the sounds of local music in the marina, sending us off on our exciting journey!
We have an absolutely incredible week with both top side and in water encounters! We had a variety of encounters, from calm mothers and calfs, to tail and peck slapping, rowdy groups, traveling and quite rambunctious mothers and calfs, as well as a singer!
We started the week with top side action. The first day we encountered a rowdy group in the morning, that took us all over the bank, fighting for the attention of a female! They were bubble blowing, oil lobbing, breaching, and filing the water with excitement! The raw power and beauty of these animals is astonishing to see in person. The sound a whale makes when it breaches next to your boat is like a firework exploding, so powerful, and wet! The afternoon brought us some time with a mother, calf, and escort. We started tracking the mother and calf, and all of a sudden, a male appeared from out of nowhere and threw his tail up at the boat, as if to say, “back off, she’s mine!” We then watched how playful the calf was with both the mother and the escort, rolling over the back of mom and then breaching shortly after the escort did. It was so great to see the bond between the mother and calf, and to watch it begin to learn how to act lie an adult humpback.
While we had numerous in water encounters this week, one of the most memorable is when we were in the water with a singer. He was a single male, looked around 35ft, and was making a beautiful rendition of this years song echo below us. As soon as we slid in the water, you could feel the song echoing in your chest. As we swum closer the feeling became more intense, and his entire song vibrated through your body. He would sing for 14-17 minutes, and then come up nice and slowly, looking us each in the eye, and then move a short distance before settling down for another chorus. We were fortunate enough to spend the entire afternoon with this singer. It was incredible to begin to learn the pattern of the song, which changes slightly every year. In the background, we could hear clicks and other noises, which we believe were other whales communicating as well. Seeing such a giant animal make such a beautiful, melancholy song was something that we will never forget.
Another extremely exciting encounter that we had this week was with a mother and a calf. We began tracking them first thing in the morning, and they led us all over the banks, bobbing and weaving different coral heads most of the way. The calf was particularly playful this morning, and was rolling all over mom, and then swimming a short distance away before attempting to breach repeatedly. It was adorable to watch this “big child” jumping over and over, trying to get his body all the way out of the water, to no avail. After rolling over his mother apparently one too many times, she decided to wake up and pay with her baby boy. She began rolling over and peck and tail slapping while the calf was breaching next to her! It was such an amazing sight to see them playing together, and the calf to begin mimicking its mothers behaviors. After following the two of them for 2 hours, mom decided she needed a rest, at which point we took the opportunity to jump in the water with them! The mother rested at around 30 ft below the surface, with the calf tucked properly under her rostrum. after 4 minutes, the calf needed to come up for air, at which point let his curiosity get the best of him, and he came up right next to us o check us out, then headed back down to mom. Then, next thing we know, he shot out and up from his mother, and exploded out of the water for a phenomenal breach! Being so close to a baby humpback whale breaching is one of the most amazing things to see, as it demonstrates just how much raw power they have in their tail, even at such a young age. What an incredible morning!
After spending act of our long, hard days playing with the whales, it was fantastic to come home to a drink in the hot tub, while eating one of Chef Ailsa’s amazing snacks, watching the whales swim around the boat as the sunset.
After spending a week with these unbelievably majestic and powerful animals, we load up the tenders and begin to make our way slowly back through the back and over to Puerto Plata. Each of us now leaves with a better understanding and knowledge of these wonderful mammals, and has a lifetime full of memories. What an incredible week!