A teaser and short update while I found the connection this morning. More details later…
There are few experiences in life that changes the way you see the world thinking that you can never go back to what it was and seeing things the way you used to. Coming to Vava’u and seeing the whales first hand first out of the water then in their home – is nothing less than life changing. It is magical to watch the sheer size of her and how gracefully she breaches out of the water twisting mid-air sliding back into the water creating a spectacular splash in the middle of the vast deep blue. I am in awe of their playfulness – the true gentle giant babies of the ocean – splashing the waters with their fins as we watch them, just to show us what they can do and hear us cheer, clap and laugh. And when I found myself in the water with these giants – the mother looking at me right in the eye – with the “tiny” calf right at her chin and the father right below us, there was no way for me to contain my excitement and amusement. It’s the top of mutual respect – they are well aware of how big they are and how they could hurt me and the others in the water. They steer so gently clear of us, but yet come so so very close. As we witnessed the bonding between mother and calf, the father was in full protection mode staying about 5 meters below. We saw him then he descended deeper and disappeared, then he reappeared coming up twisting and turning, resting just between the mother and us leaving only inches between my fins and his as I was trying to get out of the way. Inches between tons of power and me. If he wanted to he could very easily charge us from below and throw us out of the water without doubt causing serious injuries. Clearly their intention is just to look into your eyes. See you. Feed their curiosity about what this weird looking fish is doing on the surface here again. Each person in the water has the same experience about the eye to eye contact with the mother and the calf. It’s an experience that has a power of its own that goes right to your heart and carries you to a different world. They are huge, so when you fall a little behind you can’t see the eyes – just appreciate the amazing wonder that’s in front of your eyes and steer clear of those fins that’s about as big as a propeller plane’s wings.
Here’s a shot of one of the photographers on board the boat – with the whale – for size reference. This is such a special moment to get so close and be so blessed with her playfulness, just twisting, turning and flapping around right in front of him, as of to say “how do I look from this angle?” 🙂 She is gorgeous just from every single view.
We still know so little about these creatures and caused so much harm to them. Yet they are still so curious, loving and gentle with us. The captain of the boat Ive joined, has been doing this for 20 some years and has never seen or witnessed any injuries caused by the whales. People doing stupid things he says he’s seen a lot of (like trying to get between mother and calf (!), using bright flashes in their eyes etc.) but still somehow, he wonders, the whales understand and excuse us. Already making them better than us humans.
There were two that we were chasing around – I suppose they also want their privacy every now and then – as they were swimming away every time we thought we had a clearing to jump in with them. After about 10-15mins of this chasing, the one whale came out of the water right in front of the boat – I mean right in front of the boat – let out this sound that sounded like a cross between a cow and a big bird – and dove right back in. He was SO close the captain shut down everything and stopped abruptly. We thought he warned us that we were about to crash into him. 😃 Then they disappeared for a good 20mins and came out hundreds of metres away. That was enough they said and we left them alone.
Here’s another shot with part of the group in the water with another playful male whale while another one is in full breach in the back.
I was SO glad I decided to enjoy this one out of the water. How can anything get any better?
Even in that distance, and even if this is your 200th time seeing a breach, every single time – there is a loud “wow”- even the captain! Now THAT is saying something.
Today I go back… Get good shots of them. Unfortunately – my underwater camera died.Just went completely black screen, and doesn’t charge. Yes, really. I’m asking somebody if she can get me one from New Zealand if she can. But I’ll just have to make do with what I have, so stay tuned for a few “borrowed” GoPro shots and many out of water shots.