March 9 – March 16, 2019
Week Seven 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!
There was a buzz in the air prior to boarding the Turks and Caicos Explorer II this week. Many of the guests were returning to the Silver Bank from previous years and once boarded, injected the atmosphere with excitement and curiosity. Before leaving the dock for our ten-hour transit to the mooring area the entire group, previous guests and newcomers, were all comfortable and settled into their new home on the sea. This trip would prove to have some of the most beautiful weather we had all season with the added bonus of some outstanding encounters, our favorites being at the very beginning and the end of our days out on the tenders.
We arrived to find the wind was calm, sun shining and water visibility high. Within a half hour of being out on the tenders that afternoon we came across a mother and calf that were settled amongst the coral heads not a quarter mile from the Turks and Caicos Explorer II. This is the perfect trifecta: good visibility, coral heads and a cooperative mother and calf. The group was elated at every chance to get into the water with this gentle duo and took the opportunity to capture some incredible photographs. What a start!
Throughout the week we had plenty of surface activity including rowdy groups of 10 or more whales, double breaching adults and frisky calves. Because of this and our guests being wonderful amateur photographers, we were able to send an overwhelming 42 fluke identification photographs to the Center for Coastal Studies in hopes that some of the whales we observed this week are included in their catalogue.
Our week ended with yet another incredible in-water encounter. A mother lay resting just below the surface, calm and caring for her calf. We were able to get in with her by approaching slowly and keeping our distance. Once or twice she looked as though she was going to swim away but would turn back and reposition herself in front of the group. Eventually, she was nose to nose with everyone while the calf played around her and the group in the water. They continued in this manner until the other tender was called over. While Escort returned to the mother ship, the other group was able to get one last chance to snorkel and experience the magic of this mother and calf. While lined up side-by-side watching the mother and calf in the clear visibility, the calf performed its 3-4-minute breathing cycle. The calf circled around the surface just above its mother’s head before heading back down to rest beneath its mother’s pectoral fin. On the last breath cycle of the calf, it had a devious look in its eye before kicking to the surface at full speed and breaching lengthwise in front of all of us before departing with its mom directly underneath us! Time to get out! And a very special ending to the week.
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 members Gillian Morin and Joe Lamontagne
Images: Jeff Evoy (featured image), John Pierce, Heather Reser and Joe Lamontagne