Our Thursday Mid-Morning Whale Watch Cruise was pretty much a miracle cruise, as it rendered our head naturalist Greg speechless — and that NEVER happens!
We started out the cruise watching a pod of 3 adult whales who were just cruising along the surface calmly — we thought that was kind of odd as usually when 3 adults get together at least one of them is trying to prove something to one of the others.
After watching them for awhile, we spotted a Mom/Calf duo a bit closer to shore, so we headed their way. While we were waiting for these two to surface after seeing them spout and dive, all of us but one guest were looking at spouts in another direction. That one lucky guest happened to be glancing ahead, and got to see Mom launch herself from the water in a complete breach. Of course our guest let out a shout of excitement, and the rest of us turned around just in time to see the splash after Mom landed.
We stuck with Mom and her calf for awhile, and then we noticed that the 3 “calm” whales we had been watching before were getting wild. We saw lots of tail lobs, so we motored back to take a look. As we approached, these whales just kept going…tail lobbing, pec slapping, and lots and lots of splashing…and these were big whales.
But eventually they quieted down again, so we began to make our way back towards the bay and were surprised by yet another Mom and calf. As we were watching them we saw some big footprints about 40 feet off our starboard rail (see the photo above, and today’s Fact of the Day for more info about “footprints”) which turned out to be from an escort whale.
And then…remember that competitive pod we had been watching? Well, two of those whales approached our stern — one of them swam underneath us (Captain Will was able to see him on the depth finder about 70 feet underwater), and after checking out the boat, they both took a spin towards the stern again. We got to see each of them surface, spout and lift their huge flukes as they sounded.
And now you can understand why Greg was speechless!
Ocean Sports Whale Fact of the Day: The smooth round flat spot we see on the water after a whale dives is called the “footprint”. Whalers thought it was caused by oil from the whale’s skin calming the surface of the water, but water samples have proven that theory to be false. When a whale dives (or kicks just below the surface) his flukes break the surface tension of the water and create a vertical wake, forming the circular footprint.