Friday, August 7, 2009

Best Whale Watch, really!

We went out on a whale watch yesterday with the class. I was excited, but didn’t have many expectations. I figured we might see a few shadowy figures in the distance and be convinced that they were whales. I could not have been more wrong! We must have seen 50 different whales, and we saw some incredibly close. Not only did we see whales up close, but we saw some really amazing behavior.

We blew past some Minke whales on the way out because the captain had been told about Humpbacks a ways out. We stopped to see some Finbacks chowing down on a huge bait ball. This also allowed us to see enormous numbers of Shearwaters and Wilson’s Storm Petrils sharing in the whales feast. After being thoroughly amazed by these examples of the planet’s second largest organism we went off in search of Humpbacks.

We came across a mother and calf and they shocked us by getting right up close to the boat and doing partial breaches. We were able to see the massive head if the young Humpback right next to the boat. We watched the two eat and dive for a while and then went in search of other whales. For a while we were all on sensory overload because in any direction you could see spouting or diving (showing us their tail). There were plenty of Finbacks around as well and even a few Minkes.

The grand climax came just about as we were getting ready to head back. We came across a group of 3 humpbacks that, after gorging themselves on baby herring, were incredibly playful. We were treated to flipper slapping in unison, synchronized dives, and lots of breaching! Seeing a humpback whale come all the way out of the water is not something I will forget, ever. One particularly feisty animal breached 5 times in a row. It really seemed like they were performing just for us. When we finally had to pull ourselves away two of the whales began to tail-slap the water repeatedly, as if waving goodbye to us. This continued until we were out of view. Truly amazing!

Check out the video that I put together about the trip: Whale Watch Film


  1. Katie Hone WiltgenAugust 11, 2009 at 8:18 PM

    Heather, I'm so excited for you to be involved in such an amazing, inspiring program. Love that you're being so incredibly intellectually stimulated... so good to see you so excited! Isn't learning/teaching great?!?

    Love you,


  2. Wow! What an awesome experience! I went whale watching at the beginning of this month. We only saw one humpback, but it did make a bubble net right next to our boat! I'm catching up on your early posts. I'm glad to know another eco/evo blogger.