From Deception Island, we sailed pretty much straight south. We were anticipating an uneventful passage, but literally ten minutes after our French scientist, Bertrand, took the helm, he shouted, “Whales!!” We could see a couple of water spouts about 1K away. Then they were closer. Then there were a couple more. Pretty soon, we were surrounded by at least three pods of humpback whales surface feeding. We think we saw as many as a dozen showing their flukes, swimming all around us, checking us out. The most surprising thing to me was how much noise they made. Groaning and blowing water through their blowholes. My job in Bertrand’s experiment, is to take pictures of the underside of the fluke. That’s how scientists differentiate between whales. I took a couple hundred photos, of which Bertrand can use about a half-dozen. There’s also a group called Happy Whales, which uses photos of whale flukes to track the whales. I’ll send in a photo, they’ll catalog it, and whenever “my” whale shows up around the world, they’ll let me know.
Bertrand ran one of his experiments on this first whale group. Adam spread powdered krill (stinky and long-lingering) off the side of the boat, Bertrand put up his drone and monitored the whales’ reactions.
Afterward, we all agreed that the whales DEFINITELY smelled the krill and came closer. No doubt about it. Before this experience had even sunk in, more whales came to visit. They are so massive, but so graceful and beautiful I could hardly stand it. They could have crushed us like a nautical bug, but they were gentle, even when they were a foot away from the bow. The thought of whalers hunting them down in their home makes me sick to my stomach all over again. I’ve always felt compassion for whales; I want to save them… But now that I’ve “met” them, it feels much more personal.
There may never have been a Christmas Eve like this before. It was magical. Even Laura said it was the best whale watching day they’d ever had. It may be the most amazing experience I’ve had in a lifetime of amazing experiences. Proof that there’s so much out there to see and feel and live that we don’t even know to ask for. Adam puts it best when he says, “You can’t shoot a moose in a lodge.” GET OUT OF THE LODGE. But don’t shoot the moose.