2011 01 25/26 Calm weather so we head out to Sally Tuckers and Challenger- we see whales but not... Print
Written by Andrew Stevenson   


This morning we looked for whales on Michael Smiths 18-foot Parker skiff Park 'er on-de-Dock, which he normally uses as a punt to get Sea Slipper off her moornings. As you can see, Park 'er on-de-Dock is parked on the floating dock. We cruised to Sally Tuckers, Challenger Bank, the Crown of Challenger Bank and beyond and then returned via Chubb Heads. 55 nautical miles and not a sausage. The wind was from the north and relatively calm but there were big swells that substantially obscured the views.

2011_01_25_028 2011_01_25_043

Above it looks like we are going on a skiing holiday. For us Bermudians, it was cold out there,despite the sunlight. Although we didn't see a single whale, it looked like a herd of elephants had come down to drink when we got back to Ely's Harbour

We returned in time for me to pick Somers up from kindergarten. I decided to carry on looking for whales from shore so we proceded to Heather's place on Pokiok Estate with its commanding view of South Shore and while Heather and I sipped cups of tea Somers terrorised the cats. An hour later Michael phoned to ask some questions about my hydrophone, which he is trying to fix, when I saw a whale spout 150 yards off the breakers, not a couple of hundred yards from shore. The almost unnoticeable spout was followed by the back of the humpback as it curved above the surface and disappeared in 70 feet of water. I had been looking non-stop for an hour without sighting a whale and had concluded that there were no whales out there when this whale surfaced right in front of us at 3.50 pm. Just goes to show, you have to keep looking... 25 minutes later I saw two spouts, presumably of the same whale plus another, about 3/4 of a mile away, south of Devonshire Bay. I had to leave to pick Elsa up from school but Tim Card then reported a whale breach and spout twice off Warwick Long Bay at 5.00. This would correspond to the same whale moving east from Pokiok Estate to Devonshire Bay and on to Warwick Long Bay.

2011_01_25_081 2011_01_25_088

Above, Somers terrorising one of the cats and when it flees, she pretends she is a cat while Heather waits for the whale to resurface

So, after a long day on the water and 55 nautical miles later we saw nothing. While sipping a cup of tea and looking after Somers I saw a whale just off shore. This may be coincidence, but once again we seem to find the whales leading up to and on the full moon and then the whales disappear. I wonder if they come here on the full moons because there is more food to be obtained, even in these winter months. After the full moon they drift off into the ocean, probably not far, but not near our coastline or the seamounts. During the migration, they time their arrival here for the full moon and half moon, and once the full and half moon are over, resume their travel north. It does seem to be a persistent pattern- more whales on the waxing moon, almost none on the waning moon. Not science yet, but...

The next day, the 26th, despite high winds and not so great visibility, Tim Card once again spotted whales off Warwick. He saw two spouts off Warwick Long Bay at around 3:30 today and his brother Ian, a commercial fisherman, was fishing  north of the island and saw one breach.