Peace Corps Videos

Friday, October 16, 2009

Swimming with Whales – Absolutely Amazing!

How do you describe the experience of being just feet away from one of the largest mammals on the planet?

How do you describe the experience of watching a baby whale calf play under the watchful eye of its mother?

And how do you describe the feeling of being pushed by gentle turbulence as a giant humpback softly swings its tale creating a mini wave?

Words can’t describe it.  Swimming with whales is one of those rare things in life that must be experienced first hand to fully understand it, to appreciate it.

After a day swimming with whales, something that very few people ever get a chance to do, I feel truly humbled by these gentle giants and at a loss to find the appropriate adjectives to describe the experience.

The Humpback Whale Experience

IMG_3689I spent the day with Dolphin Pacific Diving.  The day started a bit slow and I started to wonder if we would actual encounter any whales.  It’s late in the season and many of the whales who have been here all winter have left.

I have been close to whales before but this was the first time that I had planned to dive with them.

We stopped for an early lunch break when one of the guys on the boat asked “is that a whale”?  I didn’t see it at first but it was.  We quickly made our way toward the whale and as we approached we saw a baby calf jump completely out of the water, spinning as it landed back in the water.  It was a terrific start to a great experience.

When we got in the water, we swam out.  The water was dark and then I noticed what at first I thought was a reef on the ocean bottom.  But as we got closer, I realized I was looking down at a giant humpback whale, directly below me.  This was NOT the baby we had seen jump out of the water, it was the mother, taking a rest.  And she wasn’t on the ocean floor, she was floating.

The first stop was short as the whales swam away, but on the next stop, the whales were in a playful mood IMG_3683especially the baby who seems to almost be chasing us.  At one point I felt like the calf was putting on a show just for the five of us who were in the water.

“Mama” had her eye on us and on her baby.  I looked her straight in the eye and wandered what I must look like to her.

On the last stop of the day, we probably spent 45 minutes in the water just watching the whales play.   I had been taking a lot of photos, but finally just shut off the camera and floated there, watching these two go about their lives.   It was peaceful, tranquil and they seemed to exert a calm in us like nothing I’ve experienced before. 

Whale Photos and Whale Videos

I’ve uploaded 11 still images to the online gallery and with the exception of some cropping, none of the photos have been retouched or altered in anyway.

I also have two videos.  This first video was taken with my Canon A710 still camera in video mode.  That camera doesn’t have the resolution as my other camera, but it is much easier to use underwater.

Direct Link:http://vimeo.com/7079352

This second video was shot on my Sony SR-11 video camera.  The camera quality is much better but it is almost impossible to see anything through the viewfinder underwater so I just point the camera in the general direction and hope it comes out.

Direct Link:http://vimeo.com/7092922

More Information about Swimming with Whales

If you want to read more about Vava’u and swimming with whales, the Fiji Island Business Magazine just published an article about the experience.  You can also contact Dolphin Pacific Diving.  I highly recommend them.

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