And WOW!! What an incredible start to the season. It’s a new decade, we have a new boat, new crew, new whales to meet and there are some wonderful new additions to the Conscious Breath Adventures Silver Bank experience.
Now, while most whale fans know how addicting swimming with the humpbacks on the Silver Bank can be, it is true that for a lot of our guests a trip to the Silver Bank is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And what we all experienced this week was truly a near perfect combination of weather, guests and whales, making it a joyous start to the 2020 season. We’ll cover all the action but will start with the biggest change for us, and our guests, and report on our first Silver Bank experience aboard the M/V Sea Hunter.
After a decade chartering the M/V Belize Aggressor IV, changing to a brand new (to us) mother ship and crew brought high hopes and excitement but also a healthy dose of caution. Luckily we had several repeat guests aboard this week so we had some qualified assessments. We are happy to report back with a big thumbs up!
When it comes to the team providing service, there is no need for comparisons. Simply put, we love and miss the BAIV crew as friends and wish them well. But we are also thrilled with the Sea Hunter team and had a blast this week. Their work ethic and joyous enthusiasm is contagious. The boat is highly capable, very comfortable and incredibly well maintained.
Jeff perfectly summarized how we all feel when he said at the start of his weekly presentation “I had some expectations for this boat and they’ve all been completely blown away.” We are looking forward to sharing this feeling with our guests for the next nine weeks, too.
Bringing us back to the main focus of these weekly Cruise Reports, let’s talk about the whales. We had some crazy-good weather, it was almost an unnatural start to the season with several days of flat, near glassy seas. That made for some spectacular surface shows. Whales breaching from calm waters and sometimes passing near or even under our tenders make for breathtaking moments. Our guests swam with several mom and calf pairs, resting adults and whale-couples who were not quite dancing but seemed almost ready to start.
On our first afternoon we met a couple of very mellow adult whales who were resting together and gave us a wonderful in-water encounter. Whenever these two rose on their breath cycle they’d take notice of us floating stationary in their vicinity and peacefully come check us out before descending to rest again. These two were very curious and often made a very direct approach. Being in the gaze of a full-grown adult whale makes for a very special Sunday afternoon. But to add to that, we met these two the next day as well, almost in the same location.
We swam with several mom and calf pairs this week. It’s always heartwarming to get to the Bank and see that all is well and baby whales are being born. Sometimes in these early weeks the moms can be a little shy and extra protective of their newborns and we respect that. They may shift their positions a little, or a lot, on each breath cycle. We always take our time to interpret their behavior before making any approach. Great whale encounters often take great patience.
That was the case for a calf our guests named Rosie. She and her mom had been spending quality time with a fellow operator who, as lunchtime approached, let us know that his guests were heading in but that they were wonderful whales if we wanted to ‘babysit’. We started watching them and after their quiet morning both Rosie and her mom woke up with a bang, firing off a series of double breaches. Again and again the calf, and mom, would jump, continuing for about half a mile down the Bank.
Finally they slowed. We waited until things were calm and the whales were back in resting mode then shared some beautiful time with them in the water.
Mornings on the Silver Bank are always a magical time filled with anticipation of what the day might bring. Sometimes there’s an announcement from a guest of what they’d like to see. Sometimes those orders are filled quite quickly! That was the case one morning when one guest said he’d really like to see a rowdy group. We were able to fulfill that request with some help from the whales.
We’d sighted a par of whales that were resting and I made my entry into the water. But even as the guests slipped in to join me something was afoot as a one of the pair started to rise directly toward the swimmers and the boat. The duo made a few passes and were interacting with us heavily in short bursts of action. Before long the commotion attracted another and soon a third and then fourth whale was on site and the group moved downwind.
Following along on the boat we were able to track the female, the center of attention, and watch as the competition between the female’s escort and her challengers heated up. Things got quite intense with high-powered maneuvering, hot pursuits and a lot of jousting for position. Eventually the escort was displaced and lost his position. But the highlight was when the escort, stationary for a moment, let out an immense burst of air creating one of the largest bubble blasts I’ve ever see. The bubbles positively erupted from the water!
There is always an ebb and flow to the activity and as the week wound down it seemed like things were still building. There is a lot of reproductive energy being spent on the Silver Bank and the season has great promise for more good things to come.
We can’t wait for more time with the whales and aboard Sea Hunter with her crew. There are morning tea and yoga sessions, the occasional dance party, some world cup soccer video game tournaments, delicious meals beautifully presented and always plenty of big smiles. “Pura Vida!” (pure life), a Costa Rican salutation and greeting applies perfectly to the Silver Bank and is used, and lived, abundantly.
Thanks for following along with us this season. For more photos and video you can follow us Instagram and Youtube, hear some more songs on Soundcloud, and follow and comment on even more on Facebook.
Have a great week and we will be back next weekend!