There’s nothing quite like video footage to animate an event where photos cannot completely portray the whole experience. Such as the articulation of the fins, the rotating joint tilts the fin almost like tabs on an aircraft wing, they also flex like a birds wing to gracefully add to their manoeuvrability at the surface. To show the female’s interest in us humans, every time they surfaced she headed towards us. As visitors to their world we are given rules, like no touching. These gentle giants have no reciprocal rules, they want to try and touch us. Humpbacks are clearly as curious about us as we are about them. Then there are the sounds, the grunts and snorts that to me sound similar to an elephant, the male’s noisy, sharp intake of breath on one occasion makes me smile, and of course there is the unbeatable haunting call as they dive. You will also hear our tour guide whooping for joy during the footage, he was clearly as excited with this encounter as we were.
We know that there are mixed feelings with regards to whether or not whale-watching or getting in the water to observe these whales is the ‘right thing to do’. Are we affecting their behaviour in any way and are we an unwelcome presence? The conclusion that we came to based on our encounter and what we observed suggests otherwise. The first pair of whales we spotted that day weren’t particularly interested in us, and after a few breaches and some surfacing they quickly disappeared into the deep blue ocean. When we arrived in the vicinity of this courting pair, it was clear that they wanted attention by heading straight for the boat as if happy to have a play thing, something to show off their acrobatic skills to. This is similar behaviour to the dolphins we have encountered, not only do they race to the bow to ride the wave but also they come along side the cockpit and leap out of the water as if to say “we’re here, come and watch us”.
So we are happy and comfortable that not only did we not invade their space, but for a few minutes we actually shared it with them and provided some sort of entertainment. Afterall, they have the ability to out-wit and out-manoeuvre us, when they want solitude they make it clear and disappear, when its play time they seek our attention. It’s humbling to think that they may have forgiven the human race for once bringing them to the brink of extinction, and are now seemingly comfortable in our presence.
And finally, apologies for the annoying dot on the screen, after six years of diving and snorkeling use our GoPro has succumbed to a tiny bubble of moisture inside the sealed lens!