February 9 – 16, 2019
Week Three 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!
Aquatic Adventures team member Gillian Morin:
It was a windy week on the Silver Bank, but that didn’t make the encounters with humpback whales any less spectacular, they just required a little more stealth. Tom had explained to us that when the seas are rough, the increased slapping of waves on the hull and poor visibility can make the whales less likely to settle near the tender. This meant that the tender driver had to be slow and careful on approach. If the tender successfully approaches a settled whale, the snorkelers have to maneuver onboard to don their fins without making too much noise on the deck and enter the rough water with grace. With the cooperation and determination of the guests and superior driving skills of our crew, guests on both tenders, Challenger and Escort, were lucky enough to get into the water with resting mothers and playful calves early in the week.
The wind picked up and continued into Wednesday. Only a single tender, Challenger, with four brave guests went out that day, including our wonderful chef, Jo. All arrived back on board later that day, exhausted yet satisfied with the encounters they experienced. There was a break in the weather on Thursday, and a call over the radio from our sister tender had us all abuzz. Moments later we found ourselves in the water, vibrating with the high and low tones of a male singer. Being in the water while a 40 foot whale is singing raises the hair on the back of your neck and the vibrations of the low tones creep up your spine sending chills all over your body. Incredibly, even after getting out of the water you can hear the song ringing through the boat! What an experience! We were also able to record his song by positioning Escort upwind of the singing male and lowering the hydrophone into the water. This in combination with the underwater footage of the whale made it a very successful and memorable encounter that may be able to contribute to this year’s research.
Aquatic Adventures team member Joe Lamontagne:
One encounter stood out for me this week. Denise had been working a mother, calf and escort group of whales for a few minutes before telling us to all gear up and be ready for a fly-by. This particular group of whales was not settling, however with them moving very slowly it was the perfect opportunity to put everyone in the water and watch as they passed. We were given the signal to enter the water and I gathered everyone up on the surface in a line facing towards the coming whales. At this point the visibility was very clear, but we couldn’t see any whales yet. So, looking back towards Denise, she motioned for us to continue looking in the same direction and that’s when we started to see their approach. The sun rays were penetrating through the water and the beautiful blue water started to come to life. The three whales’ appearance was impressive; they were facing our direction with the calf positioned just above and to the right of the mother closest to the surface, while the escort was just below and to the right of the mother. They never veered from their formation, only growing in size as they slowly moved towards us. Their head-on approach was spectacular to watch, and quite overwhelming until they slightly changed angles and passed alongside us. While the calf passed we could see he was a male as he spun and twirled around before resuming his course and eventually all three whales faded into the distance.
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 & Edited by: Aquatic Adventures team members
All images © Tom Conlin unless otherwise noted