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Our Experience with the Humpback Whales

Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
(Feb 3-10, 2001)

Please click on the pictures to view the larger image (if available)

"When you do see whales, you will realize they were worth the wait. Also, you will return to shore exhilarated, better educated about a fascinating animal, and more aware of what’s at stake if we lose even one species to extinction."
by Patricia Corrigan in "Where the Whales Are"

*** Day 4 with the Whales ***

"This morning Heather and I went out on the Duck with MarySue, Glenn, Cheryl, Carole and 2nd Captain Wade. Not even 5 minutes out, we spotted a mother and calf! After awhile when they slowed down, 5 of us put on our masks and stuck our heads in the water. What a beautiful sight! The size, the gentleness- all so amazing. They swam right under the Duck- and right under us!! They were so close and the water was very clear. I think they were only 10-15 ft below the Duck.. and I could make out so many details. A little later, we saw a (male) Escort join up with them. All of a sudden, instead of seeing only 2 blows, there were 3!" from Leslie's Journal
"... Then we came across a rowdy group- probably one female and 4 males. They were cruising along pretty fast. We stayed with them for about an hour- they came so close to us many times, and having that many huge and powerful whales beside us or in front of us was totally exhilarating." from Heather's Journal
Snorkelers.. out behind the BT II (3canon5a) Whale's Fluke (3canon3a)

Heather decided to skip out on the afternoon trip! Instead, Tiki and Ubie joined us on the Knife.

Glenn, Mary Sue & Ubie(the dog)
(PM Knife- 5canon 22a)
A nice fluke picture (PM Knife- 4canon 8a)
Glenn, Mary Sue and Ubie on the Bottom Time II- 2001 Humpback whale Fluke- Silver Bank, D.Republic 2001
A whale that was between the BT II and the shipwreck
(PM Knife- 4canon 1a)
The curious calf! (PM Knife- 5canon 20a)
(PM Knife- 5canon 18a) (PM Knife- 5canon 17a)
(PM Knife- 5canon 16a) (PM Knife- 5canon 8a)
This whale surprised us.. and I didn't have time to change my zoom!
(PM Knife- 5Canon 13a)
(PM Knife- 5canon 7a) (PM Knife- 5canon 3a)
One of 2 Juveniles that allowed us to swim with them...
(PM Knife- 793-991 8)
I think this is my only breach picture
(PM Knife- 793991 2)

"It was very overwhelming... looking down and over at a whale's eye! We were SO close. You could tell that they were also checking us out... After a couple of minutes, they both started to slowly move forward. The entire length of this HUGE whale passed right in front of my eyes. When the flukes finally came by, I was in awe! I don't think I would have minded them touching me. The moment was so beautiful and somewhat spiritual." from Leslie's Journal

Heather & Leslie- at sunset (5canon 2a)

*** Day 5 with the Whales ***

"Our last day with the whales! We went out on the Knife in the morning.. and had a tough time locating whales... until we caught up with a mother and a very young (and curious!) calf. At times it was hitching a ride on its' mother's back. Then it decided to get a little closer and swam under the boat. The waves were pretty rough, so everyone just enjoyed the sunshine and chatted with one another, all the while looking out for whales! ... At lunch we found out that the group that went out on the Duck in the morning were lucky enough to see a calf nursing! That must have been exciting!" from Leslie's Journal
"We went out with Wade on the Duck for the afternoon trip. We found a lone male so we put the hydrophone in the water- and he was a "Singer"! We all got into the water ... we could hear him singing so perfectly! I could have stayed there for hours listening to him!" from Heather's Journal

A Fluke! (I zoomed it on the scanner...)
(AM Knife- 6Canon 23a)
This whale was cruising! (AM Knife- 6Canon 19a) Nice shot of a Flipper (AM Knife- 6Canon 21a)

"Not far away (from the Bottom Time II) we came across 2 whales- probably juveniles. What a fantastic show they put on for us! First they did complete 360 degree breaches- in tandem! Then, with us getting closer until we were about 40 ft. from them, they started tail lobbing (slapping their tails on the water's surface). They had moments when one would do it right after the other and sometimes at the same time. We counted at least 30 slaps! We were so close that we could hear the loud "thump" and could see just how huge and powerful their flukes are! Wade was just as excited and amazed at this 'production' as we were. He says in 2 years of being there .. he has never seen anything like this!" from Heather's Journal

(PM Duck- 6Canon 13a) (PM Duck- 6Canon 10a)
Two whales tail lobbing 40 ft away from the Duck
(PM Duck- 6Canon 6a) (PM Duck- 6Canon 2a)
(PM Duck- 6Canon 1a) (PM Duck- 793-991 20)

2nd Captain Wade w/ Glenn & Mary Sue
(PM Duck- 793-991 20)
"Chef" Erika - who happens to be a *great* cook!
(662-772 6)
2nd Captain Wade with Glenn and Mary Sue

~~~~~~~ IN SUMMARY ~~~~~~~

"I don't think I'll ever forget what it was like to be WITH THE WHALES. To be in 'their' world.. and for them to accept us and to allow us to see their babies. It was truly magical and it has changed my life forever. ... I am extremely lucky to have had this opportunity. ...It is the last night here in the open ocean. We will drop the moorings and head back to Puerto Plata (D.Republic) in the morning. I don't want this dream to end. I hope the whales continue to thrive and return to the Silver Bank each year. I have a feeling that I will be returning to the Silver Bank next year!"
from Leslie's Journal
"I feel so unbelievably lucky to be able to say that I have been so close to one of the world's biggest creatures, one of the great whales!"
"After dinner we gathered on the deck to sing a song about the moon (it was a full moon), to talk about what we have been thankful for this week with the whales, and to sing a farewell song to the whales. It was a very interesting experience. I said that I was thankful that I was able to spend time with 2 of my favorite people/things- Leslie and whales! This week has been really special. It is something I will always remember and cherish." from Heather's Journal

A BIG thanks to Gayle & the Bottom Time II Crew for making this a wonderful vacation! If I hadn't read about Gayle's "Whale Trip" in my Ohio Sierra Club newsletter- Heather and I would have missed this opportunity!
If you want more information on in water encounters with the whales , check out the following links:
Bottom Time Adventures & Journey Of Discovery

In case you were wondering, I used the following cameras:
Canon Rebel 2000 EOS with a 200mm zoom (400 speed film)
Minolta Vectis Weathermatic Zoom (400 speed Advantix film)


Miscellaneous Whale Photos

Gray Whale migration along So Cal coast
2005 Season      2006 Season

2002 Salt Cay Vacation

Whale Facts, Links & Whale Watching Information

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