2012 Elsa on the Silver Bank, Dominican Republic Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   

Since Elsa was three, she has asked to come swimming with me and the humpbacks. It's pretty difficult to do this in Bermuda. I told her when she was 6, after she finished narrating our one-hour documentary "Where the Whales Sing", that I would take her down to the Silver Bank on the condition she joined a swim club and became proficient at swimming. She has been a member of the Sharks Swim Club for one and a half years, practicing three times a week, one and a half hours each session. She's such a strong swimmer now that one of the guests on board, a proficient diver himself, described her swimming ability as akin to a squid!

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Elsa, on the beach before boarding our boat, makes friends with a stray puppy. Elsa has an affinity for all creatures, even cockroaches! At Ocean World, adjacent to our marina, she refused to look at the dolphins and spent a good two hours in the aviary with the birds, the only place she didn't feel sorry for the animals held in captivity

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Our boat, Sun Dancer II and on the right, Elsa gets ready for another swim with the humpbacks

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A baby humpback comes to look at Elsa and on the right, doing her homework in our spacious cabin after a day on the water. Despite a bad head cold and a persistent cough, she didn't miss a single outing

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Above, Megan, Captain Gene Flipse and Geoff Pantukhoff. Geoff is counting on 19 fingers and toes how many years it has been since he set up the Whaleman Foundation. Above right Elsa's new best friend, Megan. Elsa has her Kangaroo fleece jacket with a hood on the wrong way because it provided a convenient nest for the wooden parrot we bought on the beach

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At the end of the trip, on the way back to Puerto Plata, Elsa and her parrot Cortora keep a look out for whales. Everywhere Elsa went that wasn't underwater, her parrot went with her

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Megan and Elsa looking through some of the video clips they made and on the right, an Elsa who has irrevocably changed after her numerous close encounters with humpback whales. She says she wants to be an explorer and a 'whale person' like her dad. I think it's a done deal.

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Above left, writing in her diary in the departure lounge. On the plane, taxiing out to the runway at the end of our week with the humpbacks, I noticed Elsa looking out the window, tears streaming down her face. "What's wrong?" I asked. "I'm going to miss the whales, and my family on the boat," she replied tearfully. Even if Elsa was sad to be back, Somers was happy to borrow the kangaroo fleece again


Thanks to the Secretary of State of the Environment and Natural Resources, Dominican Republic who administer the permits that allow limited numbers of individuals to swim with the humpbacks under strict guidelines






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