Saturday, October 10, 2009

The annual whale survey

This was yesterday's little task. It involved seven of us dispersing to various viewing points around the island, then sitting down with pen and paper to count those whales. The results are still to be collated (my job) as a number of observers opted to stay out for the weekend, but it was a pretty busy sea!

 Hutchie's Bluff - a good place to view the whales
My spot was Hutchie's Bluff, on the western tip of the island. I had 34 sightings in the course of the four-hour survey, eight of which were two whales moving together. Some of the others saw pods of eight whales.

One of the memorable moments for me was seeing a cloud layer peel away after about three hours, and then noticing the water erupt with breaching whales as the sun struck it behind the receding cloud shadow. It was as though they were celebrating the arrival of sunshine, and it was truly joyous. Tail thwacking and leaping out to see who could make the biggest splash were the order of the day.

Postscript: 21 October (please do not read this if you are Russian or Japanese)

The report has been compiled and sent off. Our total was 117 whales for seven observers over four hours, but we are almost certain to have recorded some of the same whales at different sites. Nevertheless, it's an impressive total, especially as on our circumnavigation a few days earlier we only saw 11.

We continue to be amazed at some of the antics the whales display. Two evenings ago, we had two large whales perform a series of perfectly synchronised jumps in front of the hostel, like ballet dancers on steroids. I even managed to get some of it on video.

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