Mar 27 08 in the water with a pod of six whales blowing bubbles Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   




At 8.00 the first call, from Bermuda Marine Radio to report two sightings phoned in to them from Stevie Master. One sighting was off Pompano and the other on Sally Tuckers. At 8.30 another call with whales sighted off Warwick Long Bay. Left Devonshire Bay at 9.15 with Camilla Stringer and her sister Ruth, Kelly Winfield and her friend Jeffrery and Lynne from the Aquarium. These notes were taken by Ruth. Arrive at Sally Tuckers at 10.00. Low tide about 11.00. 10.50 two seperate sightings in the distance. We see what looks at first glance like a small humpback but his blows aren't as big. He dives and remains down for an extended period. We eventually pick him up again. It can't be a small humpback diving for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time and I guess it must be a cuvier beaked whale. At 11.03 we find a dead deep-water squid exactly the same as the one we found last year which was also on the occasion of having seen a cuvier beaked whale. Also in the water is a lot of what looks like 'snot'. This is at about the location where we saw a whale breach. At this point we don't know which direction to go with spouts and breaches on either side of us but in the distance. We see whales at 11.10, 11.12, 11.16, 11.18. Perhaps a mother and calf at 11.26 about 200 yards off. 11.32 we see three spouts about 100 yards off. 11.39 we see what might be the cuvier beaked whale again about 100 yards off in the opposite direction. We follow the cuvier for some minutes until we lose him at 11.46. We see whales in opposite directions at 12.10, 12.15, 12.19. At 12.32 we manage to get some fluke shots of a humpback. At 12.37 we are joined by Playmate and Looking Glass with one whale in sight. We eventually leave them to the one whale and start looking for others. At 13.02 we receive a call from Stevie Masters on Lady Gambler with whales putting on a show at N32'03'254/W65'05'401. As we approach Challenger Banks (fifteen miles offshore ) at 13.28 we see a breach and then more whales near Lady Gambler. From 13.36 to 13.52 we see the backs of what appears to be three seperate pods with at least five or six whales in total. Depth is 260 feet. Over the next half hour we see one whale dive and surface with fifteen minute intervals. We leave this whale and move north east and once again see several sightings of whales in different pods. At 15.15 we see a whale pec slapping and then at 15.20 as we approach, we see vigorous tail lobbing in 178 feet of water. At 15.30 we see at least three whales pec slapping. One whale looks like a large calf or a yearling. By 15.45 there are four whales all moving towards each other and with a lot of pec flapping and taillobbing and breaching. At 15.53 Andrew is in the water. 16.00 two whales are taillobbing vigorously. At 16.10 there are five whales moving in all directions and releasing streams of bubbles in threat displays. Andrew gets out of the water at 16.15 saying it's getting too boisterous in the water. We follow the pod of whales which now numbers six with head breaches, taillobbing and pec flapping. Sometimes the whales come under the boat, sometimes just beside the boat. At 16.55 we head back for shore and see the occasional spouts en route. The water was not really clear and the whales on Challenger seemed to be feeding. We saw upwellings early in the day and areas of foam and 'snot'. At 18.25 we arrived back at Devonshire Bay. Certainly one of the best days I've had in Bermuda looking for whales and probably the most prolific. This has been the first occasion I felt slightly uncomfortable in the water with whales. It was a very high energy group. I would guess there was a female with a yearling and a primary escort and the others were challengers. There didn't seem to be a calf small enough to be from this season.

Postscript: When I finally have time to look at the footage it is quite clear that the whales are high energy. There are whales all around me and it's hard to keep track of where they are, behind, in front and below. At times the visibility isn't the greatest with all the bubbles from their blowholes and the movement of the whales. There's one particular sequence which is on of the nicest I have, of a whale approaching me from below then coming directly at me before he swerves to the side and moves off with a couple of sideswipes of his tail. For video footage see:

And here are some still frames from that video footage:




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