March 30 – April 6, 2019
Week Ten of our 29th Season
This year Aquatic Adventures embarks on its 29th year of providing our guests the unique opportunity to encounter the North Atlantic humpback whales on their breeding and calving grounds, the Silver Bank. As the season unfolds, we’ll be highlighting some of the various encounters and experiences of our guests and team members from their perspectives. We hope you enjoy following along!
It was an unbelievable week on the Silver Bank! The Turks & Caicos Explorer II had plenty of activity this week as the charter was fully booked by a group that enjoyed a ritual of yoga/meditation every morning and a dance party on the sun deck in the evening for happy hour.
There was also plenty of activity on the water even though it is nearing the end of the mating and calving season. The guests enjoyed being a part of the action and getting up close to some of the impressive surface behaviors. Remaining males are competing for their chance to mate with a female, increasing the number of rowdy groups in the area. These groups are usually packed full of high energy and guests get to enjoy seeing 40 foot humpback whales preforming tail breaches, spinning head breaches and bubble streams. These behaviors were not only observed in the occasional rowdy group but also in other in-water encounters.
Nearing the end of the day we came across two whales that hadn’t completely settled but were slowly drifting along the sea floor. The group drifted along with them on the surface until the two whales were out of sight. Thinking the encounter was over, we started to make our way back to the tender when, both whales, in perfect unison did a spinning head breach high into the air. The lighting was perfect for photography and the breach was flawless, alas with most of the guests still in the water and others on the boat relaxing, not a single person captured the moment. It will have to be something we remember and keep in our hearts and mind. Meanwhile the second tender was with two whales that were also casually drifting along the bottom, sometimes coming in and out of view. Without warning the guests found themselves in a Jacuzzi-like plume of bubbles. Disoriented and confused, the scout, Joe, began to laugh. One of the whales had decided to cloud the group with a bubble stream, in the same manner they would try and disorient a challenging male. It’s hard to say what the purpose of this particularly unique bubble stream was, but for the guests it seemed harmless and maybe even playful.
The next day, among the coral heads, both tenders were able to get into the water with a mother and calf. The mother seemed to be interested in the tender itself, continuing to double back, circling the boat and the guests that were in the water next to it. Her calf was also curious but generally stayed close to mom, and to our surprise a singing escort accompanied them. The visibility wouldn’t allow us to see much past the mother but underneath you could feel the escort singing. The low tones vibrated through our bodies and up our spines while the high squeaks pierced our inner ears. All three stayed nearby for awhile, allowing both tenders to swap out and experience the encounter. Another spectacular week thanks to the humpbacks on the Silver Bank.
The Aquatic Adventures team hopes that you are as inspired as we are to help sustain the humpback whale population. Through our partnership with the Center for Coastal Studies, we are helping to gain critical information on these charismatic creatures, and to seek ways to protect and preserve them. To find out more about this effort, join their mailing list or to make a donation, large or small, please visit: www.coastalstudies.org/aquaticadventures
We are proud to support SeaLegacy in their efforts to create powerful media to change the narrative around our world’s oceans. Their mission is to inspire the global community to protect our oceans. To learn more about SeaLegacy and help with this important mission, please visit: https://www.sealegacy.org
Thanks to all who have generously donated!
Learn more about Aquatic Adventures here.
Written by: Aquatic Adventures team member Gillian Morin
Edited by: Aquatic Adventures team member Heather Reser
Images: Atmoji Photography – thank you!