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.