11th April 08 and a gam of 10 whales!!! Print E-mail
Written by Andrew Stevenson   


Out on the eastern side of Challenger Banks, almost 20 miles offshore, we came across a gam (aka a 'pod') of 10 whales, thanks to a call from Geoff and Helen Gardener on their 44-foot catamaran "Windrush". For a quick peek at what a gam of 10 whales swimming by looks like, check it out on:


Because I am intending to go out again tomorrow, Camilla Stringer not only took notes today, she actually typed them up and sent them to me so all I had to do was copy and paste her notes below. Thanks Camilla.

Whale Diary Friday 11th April

Head out of the Dinghy Club just after 9 am on Bob Steinhoff’s Dom Perignon with Bob, Andrew, Kevin, Margaret and Camilla aboard. Head to Watford Bridge and out along the south shore heading for Sally Tuckers.

10.20 On the edge of Sally Tuckers we see two whales breaching. As we approach one whale begins tail lobbing repeatedly. The other whale responds by fin-slapping and they continue this for 5 minutes.

10.26 One of the whales breaches 3 times, while the other continues fin-slapping.

10.27 One whale turns on to it’s back and slaps the water with both fins.

10.30 Both whales spout and sound.

10.35 We are following one spout, and Andrew enters the water.

10.40 Andrew is about to get out when the whale comes closer to the boat.

10.43 Pick Andrew up as the whale is moving slowly away. We are not sure of the location of the second whale.

10.47 Andrew back in the water.

10.53 The whale is spouting regularly, but once more is moving slowly away. Andrew says that it has a scar on the front right side of it’s head.

10.54 The whale is heading towards Chubb Heads. We are approx. 1 mile SSW of Chubb Heads in 60 ft of water.

10.55 Spouting regularly. We think we have been following both the whales breathing every four or five minutes, rather than a single whale breathing every two.

11.01 Whale dives.

11.05 Spout

11.08 Moving away from BDA, following the whale

11.09 , 11.10, 11.11, 11.12, 11,15 Spouts

11.16 Two whales surface together and dive.

11.19 Andrew is in the water.

11.24 Whales dive and we maneuver to pick Andrew up.

11.25 We are now in 200 ft of water.

11.30 Spouts. Looking Glass approaches.

11.35 Whale blows and dives.

11.36 Two whales surface together and dive.

11.39 Dives. We are in 600ft of water approx. 2 miles west of Chubb Heads.

11.56 Breach.

12.01 Whale dives.

12.04 Looking Glass and a speed boat are moving closer. We turn around and head east.

1.05 On Challenger in 180 ft of water.

1.20 Jeff Gardiner calls to say that there are whales all around his boat. We turn around and head towards him.

1.41 We can see Jeff’s boat and spot two spouts close by.

1.42 Three whales sighted.

1.43 Blow.

1.44 Now we can see 5 whales.

1.49 Spout.

1.50 Pecslapping, spouts and 'humpbacks'.



1.51 Andrew ready to get into the water.

1.52 John & Chris Burville, and Judie Clee are also enjoying the show.

1.53 5 blows – the group of whales is hanging out on the surface.

1.54 190 ft of water

1.58 The whales blow and dive.

1.59 Blow

2.04 Two spouts and the whales appear to dive.

2.05 More spouts and again the whales appear to dive. It looks a bit like a feeding pattern, except the whales do not seem to be staying down long.

2.06 We see 6 spouts within seconds. There are more whales than we had realized.

2.07 Tail lob

2.10 Jeff’s boat is within a few feet as the whales approach and swim past him. One whale tail lobs.

2.13 Whale’s diving. Flukes visible. We are in 1000 ft of water.

2.20 5 blows together

2.25 Whales dive.

2.26 Whales heading away from BDA.

2.29 Four whales surface close to the boat. Blow several times, tail lobbing.

2.31 Three whales surface close, then there are 5, then 6 whales all on the surface together.

2.33 The whales dive.

2.36 Six whales in a line surface nearby. Another whale breaches in the distance.

2.41 Whales surface and blow several times, they seem very relaxed. The show no interest in the boats, nor do they alter their course to avoid them.

2.44 More spouts. We are heading west in the North Quadrant of Challenger. The whales are moving together at a speed of 3- 4 knots.

2.46 Breach.

2.48 The whales change their course and slow down. 5 surface together.

2.50 Andrew in the water. The whales swim slowly past him. They know he is there. He counts 8 whales.

2.51 We can’t see the whales – Andrew tells us they are right under the boat.

2.54 Andrew out of the water.

2.57 A whale surfaces ahead of the boat, and dives showing us the fluke.

2.58 Andrew back in the water. The whales surface in front of the boat again – too far away for Andrew to get any film so we collect him again.

3.10 Whales dive.

3.12 Whales turn towards the boat.

3.13 Andrew back in the water.

3.16 Andrew in the boat.

3.18 Whales dive again, once more showing a fluke.

3.20 Whales sighted away off to port.

3.26 We are in 170 ft of water moving towards a more central position on the Banks. John Burville brings his boat along side. Chris has not yet had an opportunity to film in the water. While Andrew and Chris are comparing notes John sees the whales surface behind the boats. Both boats turn and move towards the whales.

3.26 Several whales on the surface.

3.29 Several blows close together.

3.30 Still on the surface, blowing regularly and heading towards us.

3.35 Bob matches the whales’ speed and we travel parallel with them.

3.40 The whales dive.

3.42 The whales alter course and swim across the stern. We count 8 whales. Andrew is in the water.

3.50 Andrew in boat.

3.54 Fin-slapping.

3.56 Fin-slapping.

3.58 We drop back to allow to let John and Chris advance.

4.03 We watch for minute and then head for BDA. As we speed away we can see repeated tail-lobbing.

7.03 Andrew calls me to say that he can see 10 whales in his footage.


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