Friday, February 11, 2005

1987 First meeting with Talon 6/20/87 #4


87 6-20 Taloncalf04
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
The calf found us fascinating, and in close company with its mother, Talon, it circled us many times. The encounter lasted two hours. There was so much going on that I just put down my camera and watched. I did manage to get some sketchy notes:

"1434 (2:34 p.m.) both whales come up close together near our bow. The calf "wags" its fluke, slashing back and forth just below the surface of the water. Then they do a deep dive side by side. Talon "flukes up" but the calf didn't fluke enough to get a good picture. Is it still too young, bouyant and weak to dive deeply?
1438 the calf pops up again and blows, then lies just below the surface of the water for 7 minutes. Everybody is totally silent and fascinated as they watch.
1445 the calf comes up to blow and sinks back down again.
1450 both Talon and the calf are up briefly, blow a couple of times and dive again this time both bring up their flukes. (I just watched, my camera on the other side of the boat, rats).
1450-1458 the two are down for eight minutes then come up very close to the port side of the boat.
1500-1550 The calf stays just below the surface where we can easily see it or it comes up and circles us. It tailwags repeatedly and each time the passengers cheer. Then it lies perpendicular to us, almost touching the boat with its nose (rostrum). It drifts slowly around the boat rolling on its side showing a fluke, thus giving us a "mug shot" that can be used in the Humpback whale catalog to identify it in the future. We clearly see its eye as it looks up at us. (It is always breathtaking and moving to be caught in a whale's gaze.)
87 6-20 Taloncalf02

All the while, Talon's dark shape, like a huge shadow drifts along just beneath the calf. The two dive under the boat and come up on the other side three times, causing us to stampede across following them. People become self conscious, laughing at themselves and wondering both what we sound like to the two whales under the water, and if they are diving back and forth to repeat the effect."

Finally they seemed they get bored, dove deep off our stern and headed away. The captain never followed a whale when it chose to leave us.... he valued their privacy very highly and did everything possible to protect it. This is one sign of a good captain, another is that he or she will not approach whales any closer than the prescribed distance, rather, they will stop outside that distance and wait for the whales to approach them.

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