Guests of Conscious Breath Adventures all know that every day in the Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic is a new opportunity and you never know what you will see and experience as you set out on the whale boats to swim with whales. March 3, 2011 is just one remarkable example.
The morning dawned calm and clear, with no wind, waves or clouds to speak of, perfect conditions for finding and swimming with whales. After breakfast everyone eagerly geared up for what looked like a very promising day and they were not to be disappointed. We loaded into our whale boats and set off on our search.
For the next few hours we shared the glorious day with our new friends. Mother, calf and escort continued to relax peacefully. Every so often the calf would wander over out of curiosity to have a closer look at the swimmers, looking everyone in the eye.
What makes an encounter like this so special is the time you have to really see all the behaviors of the whales and in such good conditions, too. Initially they were all sleeping and the calf would make the occasional slow pass. After a while the calf became more energetic and curious and approached us all very closely. All we swimmers had to do was fin or paddle slowly every once in a while to maintain position. When the mother would rise for a breath she would float motionless at the surface, logging, while she went through her breath cycle and then submerged again, right in front of us. Because we were in the midst of the reef the water was shallow, less than 45’, so the whales were never more than 25’ below the surface, offering amazing views.
Eventually the calf woke up and began to engage with us more actively which attracted the attention of the escort who now glided and circled slowly beneath us as he investigated these curious beings floating like seaweed at the surface. If you think seeing a calf up close is fun, imagine having a 40′ whale pass under you twenty feet down as he weaves through the coral heads; or better yet, both at once!
And of course, after all this action, a little whale is going to get hungry so we were also able to share one of the most intimate moments in the mother/calf relationship when the calf nursed for lunch.
At one point it was fun to watch as the whales all went back into a resting cycle. Tidal currents flow on and off the Silver Bank and as the whales napped we all, whales and swimmers alike, drifted through the reef being carried slowly by the outgoing tide. I watched carefully, concerned that a snoozing whale might drift into a coral head and wake with a start, but it never happened! We just floated like logs in a lazy river, effortlessly avoiding all obstacles in our way.
It went on like this for hours, whales and swimmers at peace watching – not glimpsing but really seeing each other – until finally the whales gradually energized and finally moved off, leaving dreams fulfilled in their wakes
when is the best time of year to view the hump backs?
I’m happy to answer your question. The best time to view and swim with the whales is when they are on the Silver Bank, between January and April every year. During that time thousands of whales visit the Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic, during the week our guests are out there with us we see a few hundred.
You can see the exact dates here: http://consciousbreathadventures.com/schedule-availability/
Thanks for posting!
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