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Monday, February 02, 2015

The Whales Go By




I sit on the couch, one, two, or three children nearby, perhaps one leans against me. Outside the window is a tangle of jungle growth and the heavy sound of tropical rain beats on the roof. I open the book and we are transported to another world, that of the sea. I begin reading the tale of the humpback whales' yearly migration from the Sea of Cortez to Alaska. 
  

I clamber into the inflatable open boat, fasten my life jacket tightly and protect my camera from the spray. We're off!
 

The boat slows as we pass the famous rock arch dividing the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez.  It's mid-afternoon and the water is cold molten steel.
 

The waters surge around the rocks. Waves heave in every direction. Just a moment longer and we round the last bit of rock to head for the open ocean. 
 

The spectators, 20 of us or so, give a collective gasp as we see the first of many whales.
 

We maintain the distance mandated by law so as not to bother the whales unduly. The whales, however, are unaware of the law and approach the boat. Most of these photos are cropped, but the above one is not, just to give you an idea of how close the whales came to the boat.
 

We see several pods of humpbacks, their enormous charcoal coloured backs rising from the sea, then sinking down in a graceful arc as the water pours off their tails. In between whale sightings, I take a photo of the land in the distance.
 

Down he goes as lovely trickles of water flow off his tail.
 

Two, three, and four whales at once. Mothers and babies. It's an abundance of life and beauty and action. Click, click, click, goes my camera.  
 

All around us the whales rise up to breathe, expelling air and mucus in great blows. Scanning the ocean for plumes such as this is how the boat pilot knows where to go. 
 

Each tail is distinctive, our guide tells us. The pointed ends of the tail are encrusted with barnacles.

Humpbacks are massive creatures - 12-16 metres in length and around 36,000 kilograms in weight. Massive.


A new spectacle. A female begins waving her pectoral fins in the air, first one and then the other. She does this to attract male attention. 


Slap goes her tail on the water and the males churn up the water. Wave, slap. Wave, slap. Wave, slap. She rotates from side to side as she flaps and slaps first one fin, then the other.
 

The males rise to the surface, then dive down, circling the female. Our guide tells us they will fight each other for her attention.
 

Wave, wave in graceful arcs. I stop clicking and sit watching in awe at the amazing display. 

We are the last tour of the day and our guide and pilot are in no hurry to return. They are as entranced by the show as we are. Finally, as light threatens to fade, we head to shore.

The Whales Go By. A story book come to life.
 


44 comments:

  1. What a story! And so well illustrated.

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  2. What a wonderful experience Lorrie. We have a wonderful migration of humpback whales along the coast of Queensland every year and sights similar to these play out every day for several months.

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  3. Wow and Wow! That is incredible. You got some fantastic photos of this amazing spectacle.

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  4. Exciting! What a fabulous adventure!

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  5. Oh my...what an exciting experience that must have been! Fantastic photos of those beautiful creatures! What a great story book too.

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  6. Wow, much more exciting than seeing dolphins - and a wave goodbye at the end!

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  7. Growing up in California we used to go whale watching to see the grey whales, on their way to Baja to give birth, and then heading back north.

    They are so amazing.

    Deanna

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  8. Oh my...how fabulous is that. You got so many marvelous photos.

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  9. Magnificent! And you with your camera put to brilliant use -- thanks!

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  10. Ohhhhh! Stunning! I have always been drawn to humpbacks and love them oh so much. One time when we were snorkeling in Hawaii one came right up to us and raised "her" head out of the water to check our group out. I know it was a she because she had beautiful eyes and lashes. I was frozen and enchanted all at the same time. I love them so. What a wonderful experience you had floating nearby.

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  11. Whales are such magnificent creatures. Thank you so much for your story and photographs!

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  12. This experience will stay with you forever...the way you have described your amazing encounter with these beautiful whales brings us into the boat. Thanks for sharing such amazing photos.

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  13. Wonderful photos, Lorrie! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  14. Totally, completely amazing! I would LOVE to have been there with you--but I feel, with your wonderful pictures, that I was and I am amazed! Beautiful area too!
    Blessings, Aimee

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  15. these are such amazing creatures. How wonderful to be so close to them. I would like my husband to do a dive with the whale sharks the next time we go to Coral Bay.
    Happy travels!

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  16. 'The whales, however, are unaware of the law and approach the boat...', simultaneously funny and scary, Lorrie! What spectacular photos of your tour, showing the effervescent elegance of what is supposedly simple routine stuff, for these amazing mammals!

    Poppy

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  17. I can feel the excitement...what an awesome trip of a lifetime!!!...:)JP

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  18. I agree with A Quiet Corner, you have captured the essence of excitement! The pure and amazing experience of being included in the presence of these amazing and stunning mammals. Beautiful and detaied photos.
    A pleasure to visit you, Lorrie-
    Jemma

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  19. This must have been of life's best moments. What a treat to see these magnificent animals. You did an amazing job of photography.

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  20. Aren't they amazing creatures Lorrie - and your pics are fabulous! So happy you were treated to an amazing show - it will be something you remember always. I have seen a lot of humpbacks, also other whales, but my most amazing memory is of the ones in Antarctica where they swam around our Zodiac boat giving us the eye and putting on a wonderful show. I will never forget the feeling that came over me to be so privileged, even our boat driver had tears in his eyes!

    Lovely post - many thanks for sharing.
    Hugs - Mary

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  21. Oh c'est magique !! Tu as de la chance d'avoir pu assister à ce spectacle... ça doit être vraiment majestueux et impressionnant. J'en ai les larmes aux yeux ( mais c'est sans doute aussi parce que je suis très fatiguée et le flot d'émotions sort de cette manière).

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  22. Oh my, what an experience!! I've seen whales, but never that close. They are such beautiful creatures.

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  23. We watched the show in the Sea of Cortez a few years ago. Your photos are great! Do you know the West Coast book Waiting for the Whales by Sheryl MacFarlane?

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  24. Love how you brought the book alive, with your pictures. When visiting the Westcoast, my daughter and I went whale watching. We had the experience of the whales, swimming under the boat up close & personal. Magnificent! Thank you for sharing.

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  25. Love how you brought the book alive, with your pictures. When visiting the Westcoast, my daughter and I went whale watching. We had the experience of the whales, swimming under the boat up close & personal. Magnificent! Thank you for sharing.

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  26. Wow, those are amazing photos. Such wonderful creatures. I've never seen a whale, must have been a great experience. Love how you brought the storybook to life!

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  27. Lorrie, such a wonderful post, full of fascinating photos and exciting moments! I feel as if I have been in the boat myself! You had me at the very first word (and photo) as reading aloud to my children was one of the greatest pleasures of my life.

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  28. What an amazing tour and your photos are spectacular.
    Our one and only whale watching tour was nothing like this. Most of the people on board were sea sick and by the time the whales were spotted few cared anymore.

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  29. Outstanding adventure! A privilege to see your photos...

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  30. What an exciting adventure, Lorrie! I've always wanted to go offshore fro a whale watch excursion. I felt like I had a front row seat looking at your photos.

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  31. How thrilling to be with you through your photos and narrative talent!

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    ComfortSpiral
    <3

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  32. Lorrie, you are such a great storyteller, I was enthralled throughout!

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  33. I wasn’t sure if you were reading the story or experiencing it.
    Wonderful pictures.

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  34. Oh my gosh this is amazing. What an experience this had to have been. You got some awesome photos. I would love to see whales like this.

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  35. Stunning photography! I am amazed and I must admit a bit envious ... But so grateful you shared . Thank you. Loved the post.

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  36. A story book come to life....oh my! How true! You got to witness something spectacular and took such amazing photos! WOW! I'm going back to look at them again! Hugs, Diane

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  37. Stunning photos - we are going on a whale watching tour in the spring.

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  38. I'm glad you had such a great time away! Our cruise ship stopped here for a day and we took the little boat through that famous arch. Such a beautiful place - we thought we'd like to book a longer trip here sometime.

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  39. oh my. what an amazing experience xxx

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  40. How fun and I must check out this book. My kind of thing!! Clarice

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  41. Oh my. You must have been struck to witness live such grandeur of these creatures. I can't imagine. I so happy you shared.

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  42. I just sent my high school Literature students to your blog because we just started Moby Dick and we are on the lookout for whale sightings!

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  43. Wow, I would have loved to have been on that boat trip! You got a lot of terrific closeups!

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