Thursday, April 16, 2009
A very special day for me today. Those of you who know me and the passion, respect and love I have for my whale friends will be delighted to know that I finally swam WITH A BLUE WHALE UNDERWATER! As with Humpbacks, I have swum close to them many times but to dive down and really be in THEIR WORLD, even if for a moment is something I have literally dreamed about for years.
After finding no HBs in the southern part of our research grid this morning I asked if Susan and Phil might like to go further out and see if we could find a Blue Whale. They were all for it and we motored out to the Blue Whale "zone" in the grid. We spotted him/her from quite a distance about 8 miles out from Boca del Alamo and made our approach. It dove and when it came up again he/she was only 150 ft from us. Vicente got me in position and I rolled out in front of him/her. I was close "but no cigar". As I was getting back on board I got a feeling the whale was still nearby and was curious. Once on board with fins off and taking a breather the whale came up again nearby so I rolled right back out (sans fins) but it was gone.
I asked Vicente to set me in position once more and he did a masterful job dropping me off directly in front of the whale. I saw it's back coming towards me and I just knew this was going to be good. I looked for directions from the folks on the boat and I saw Phil yelling "dive, dive" so I did. I went down about 20 ft and looked below me but nothing. Then I turned to my left and there it was, the whole whale about 30 ft away. He/she was just beginning to go up for another blow so his/her body was at about a 30 degree angle and just breaking the surface with it's head. I swam as fast as I could and was treated to a vision of physical/animal beauty that almost took my breath away (somewhat dangerous when under water of course). Now I know what Elizabeth (one of my research assistants this season) felt a few weeks ago when she dove with "Neptune".
So there you have it. I hope you who read these posts understand that I am doing my best to represent we Homo sapiens as peaceful and loving creatures. As you can imagine I am very, very happy!