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February 16, 2014

The sun rose around seven every morning, at it was lovely every time! Ready to tackle the whales, we ventured out on the tenders after breakfast. Overall the whales were either difficult to spot or very feisty today. There were not too many that wanted to settle down for us to join them in the water. We tooled around for a few hours following a few groups of whales when finally we set upon a male trying to impress a female. When we approached them closely, we riled them up!

The series of three, are photos in succession (I really have a series of about 10 for some of then so it almost looks like a video when scrolling through quickly).

They rolled on their sides while pec slapping, lobbed their tail at us sideways, and spy hopped to check us out! They circled around the tender. Coming from the stern to the bow on the port side of the tender, they were so close we could have reached out and touched them! Once in a while, I stuck my GoPro in the water to catch below surface action. They also crossed the bow and swished their tail so closely that we were riding waves. Thankfully, the wind was behind us so we weren’t sprayed by their oily blows.

Entranced by the action, we followed them so far out that our main boat wasn’t in sight and it took us about an hour to get back in for lunch. It was such an amazing spectacle, and to be able to see the barnacles on their flukes, and the tubercles on their rostrum and fins was awesome. Each tubercle, which are the bumps on the whale, has a hair protruding from it, which helps the whale sense things.

Watching them frolic was a treat, as the morning encounter otherwise was slightly slow. We tried an underwater encounter with two other whales, but with one sweep of their pectoral fins, they were gone. No playtime for us!

After a delicious, warm lunch we went back out on the chasers at two o’clock. The agreement among the boats is all tenders go out at the same time. We came upon five whales together. A mom was hanging with her calf and escort while two other males tried to butt in. The group never settled, so continued scanning the surface for any blows. They were few and far between. Yesterday, the were blowing and breaching constantly, today they seemed to have moved to another nearby bank like Navidad or Mouchoir.

We finally found another male and female who were much more sedate. They stayed in the general area of the tender for some time, and after taking breaths, they settled below for 18 minutes or so. We thought we might see a “Valentine” which is basically whale foreplay (no one has seen humpbacks mate). Apparently, the female wasn’t that interested in the male, so there wasn’t any touching or spinning, and by the time we reached the whales, but we did get to hang out with them for a few minutes before they decided they wanted more privacy. We visited them underwater twice before we called it the day. The visibility was challenging as the light was getting low near 5 p.m. so we headed in.

Cocktail hour included mojitos, mango salsa and a lovely sunset. Lowell, who was our whale spotter today, seconded as the bartender and photographer. Everyone posed for sunset pictures. Michael and Ramona are so different in height, she stood on a chair! All the crew switch up jobs with serving dinner, driving the tenders, and more. They can all drive the big boat too. On this adventure, Lowell is the 2nd captain as well. We had a really AMAZING day of surface action, and hope to have some under water encounters tomorrow!! ETB

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