February 3 – February 10, 2024 

Week 3 of our 33rd Season

This year Aquatic Adventures embarks on its 33rd season 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 highlight some of the various encounters and experiences of our guests each week. We hope you enjoy following along!

It is almost unbelievable how much action was seen on the first day of the third week. Minutes after leaving the main ship, our tender Escort was surrounded by a pod of pantropical spotted dolphins. These dolphins are smaller than your common dolphin; they appear like little footballs being thrown over the surface of the water. They absolutely love the boats so they find us pretty quickly when they are in the area. The guests slipped into the water and the dolphins surrounded them. They are so quick dodging in and out of view that you should consider yourself lucky if you get a good photo of them.

But the dolphins are not why we are here, we are here to find North Atlantic humpback whales. From first hand experience, the dolphins appear to be an annoyance to the whales, chirping and charging them, causing the whales to not settle. Fortunately, the dolphins seem to lose interest after awhile and the search for humpbacks continues.

Our first encounter was with a mother, calf and escort. The mother and calf did not seem too interested in our group but what really stood out to us was the entanglement scarring and the missing section of pectoral fin of the escort. It was almost as if a third of his right pectoral had been cut off. Could this be from a boat strike accident? Entanglement? It is hard to say. This week we were fortunate to have two researchers from Center for Coastal Studies on board. Emily and Paulette are two members of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team, working off the coast of Provincetown, Mass. They brought a certain prowess to the week with presentations about disentanglement and conservation. The Aquatic Adventures team would like to give a special thanks to Emily and Paulette for joining us this season. 

Later in the afternoon a rowdy group came racing by. It started with a few whales but continued to grow until we had five whales all competing for a female. It’s always a high energy, exciting experience to motor alongside a rowdy group and see the fast offensive maneuvering of the challengers. Visit our Facebook page here to view a video that one of our guests, Alex Zosel, captured of the rowdy group.

To finish off the day, just when we thought it couldn’t get better, we approached a second mother and calf. Some behaviors of the humpback whale are undefined… perhaps it’s a type of communication, solicitation maybe or just plain fun. But the tail breach is undeniably a behavior of warning or aggression and this mother was letting us know exactly how she felt about us approaching. It was pretty clear that she didn’t want company when the spray from her tail breach splashed up over the boat and when she turned onto her ventral side and began lob tailing right next to the tender. Clearly, we were not welcome! We promptly got the message and let her continue on her own as we made our way back to the main ship for happy hour. (View video here)

Unfortunately, due to high winds the Silver Bank became too dangerous a place to stay safely moored. We packed up and headed to the marina where we would stay until the weather cleared. With a day on land, the Aquatic Adventures crew set up a day trip for the guests to tour Puerto Plata. The guests discovered the local rum distillery where four US dollars gets you 8 different tasters of their local rum. They also visited a cigar shop where they rolled their own cigars, visited the town square, a local church and learned how to make chocolate at the local factory.

To end the tour, we stopped at the Fort San Felipe to learn about the history of Puerto Plata, visited an overlook of downtown and harbor front where we could watch the waves roll in and ships prepare for the weather. For the next few days we were hampered by weather but made the best of it with 4×4 tours along the beach and visits to the 27 waterfalls, where the guests strapped on helmets and climbed ladders to jump down into the falls.

Even though the weather did not cooperate this week, our guests left happy knowing they had some amazing encounters with humpback whales, enjoyed some informative presentations from CCS researchers and experienced some local culture.


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: Aquatic Adventures, Ken Garret and Steve Smith
Videos: Alex Zosel