Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W IS FOR WHALE : A-Z Challenge

Welcome to Day 23 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. My theme is:

 Wildlife Encounters

I am fortunate to have seen Humpback Whales in South Africa and the South Pacific. Here are the relevant (edited) snippets from two of my articles.


 Extract from an English language newspaper in Spain:

The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park is on the shores of the Indian Ocean.  Inland from St Lucia, the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi game reserve is the oldest proclaimed national park in Africa.  At 960 square kilometres, it is far smaller than Kruger, but has a good reputation. We visited the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserve first, electing to do the Umfolozi side since we could pronounce it.  


The slightly scruffy town of St Lucia sits at the mouth of the St Lucia estuary. Advantage Deepsea Charters arrange trips to view humpback whales from July to October.  


We boarded the boat directly off the beach.  The skipper gunned the engine and we were soon bucking and slamming through the breakers.  Once past the breakers we were permitted to remove our lifejackets,  although the ocean was as rough as a washing machine.


Three of us joined Skipper Danie on a small viewing platform with a secondary wheel. From this lofty perch we could see for miles.

All eyes were peeled, searching for tell-tale 'blows'; the plume of spray that is a whale exhaling.  My husband spotted a blow.  Suddenly we were chaperoning five humpback whales for a few miles of their mammoth journey south.  



It is hard to assimilate how large a humpback is as you glimpse the curve of a back or the span of a tail as it dives.  The eye thinks it is being deceived, but they really are as large as trucks.

The return to our embarkation point entailed a scary high speed ride so bone rattling I was nearly catapulted overboard.



Air-Pacific in-flight magazine extract:


“Mantas!”  James leapt to his feet and raced out on deck. 
We swiftly followed. Manta rays were breaking the surface two hundred metres from our boat.  

In no time flat we were enjoying an impromptu dive with possibly the most elegant animals to grace our oceans.

For the diving enthusiast, or person who wants to learn scuba diving, there is nothing quite like a dive live-aboard cruise. It gives you the opportunity to live and breathe this addictive sport for several days with like-minded people. Couple this with a cruise around Fiji’s abundance of exquisite small islands and you have a perfect holiday combination.

In addition to diving the reefs around Makogai Island, we made landfall.  Villagers gathered on the beach to welcome us with a song.  We were garlanded with sweetly fragrant leis and village chief Watson shook everyone’s hand…






It was at Makogai that ‘blows’ were spotted.  






Before you could say “humpback whale” we were speeding out in the skiff for a closer look at a mother and her calf as they lazily breached and dove for several magical minutes.






See you tomorrow – I’m heading north west. Can you guess where and what the next animal will be?



If you want to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click HERE

41 comments:

  1. I think I did it again! Whooppee!
    How about the x-ray fish off the Maldives as you like going there!? ;-)
    AJ at Ouch My Back Hurts

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  2. You did it again.
    Now would I really return to the Maldives? It's true that I like it there very much. :)

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    1. Hey, Aneeta, you're back! Thanks for dropping by again.

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  4. What a picture! What is it about their eyes that seem to speak? Humpbacks migrate through the Virgin Islands in the early spring, Feb/March. Unfortunately I've never seen one, though many others have.

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    1. Thanks, Bish. We get humpbacks in Ireland too - so I hope I'll get the opportunity to see them here.

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  5. Awesome pictures! Loved reading the experience! I so wish, I can see them one day!
    Srivi, The Piscean Me

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    1. The good thing about these animals, Srivi, is that they have clear migratory routes, so it's possible to plan to see them with a reasonable degree of certainty.

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  6. Such beautiful creatures. I've always preferred sperm whales, myself, but they're all impressive.

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    1. The closest I've seen of sperm whales is their blow. The sperm whale blow is easy to identify because it shoots out at an angle instead of vertically. :)

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  7. I spent a summer working on a whale watch boat so have seen many, many whales. What I have not seen and would love to, are narwhals. Also Belugas.

    @Kathleen01930
    Meet My Imaginary Friends
    #AtoZchallenge

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    1. Oh you lucky lady! Yes, I'd love to see narwhals and belugas - also killer and blue... and, and, and! :)

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  8. Whales are so beautiful. I think my family might've been on some kind of low-key whale watch (probably on Cape Cod), but we didn't see any whales. I'd love to someday see whales in their natural environment.

    Welcome to My Magick Theatre
    Onomastics Outside the Box

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    1. It's wonderful to see them in the ocean, Carrie-Anne - even if that does mean you sometimes only get glimpses of them.

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  9. Whales have always fascinated me, and Man has been so cruel to them. :-(

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    1. They are immensely fascinating, aren't they, Roland? Thank goodness - most(!) of the world has stopped hunting these glorious animals.

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  10. Wonderful pictures! Whales are always an interesting subject for people of all ages..We(my family and friends) spotted a whale when we were in Cochin, Kerala in the arabian sea and all of us in the boat rushed towards the sight ignoring the Captain's order and the boat was about to capsize :) It was a blue whale

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    1. Wow, Jahnavi, you lucky lady - I would love to see a blue whale.

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  11. THIS IS AMAZING. Did you take these pictures? These are so beautiful, that's so amazing. I've seen a humpback before just once when I was in Alaska. They are such beautiful creatures!

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    1. Hi, Jess - thanks for visiting my blog and glad you've enjoyed this post.

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  12. These photos are AWESOME, Susan! What a fabulous trip—or, rather, trips! I'm a diver, but in Curaçao whale sightings are rare (and I've missed the three in the 12 years I've lived here). Mantas are rare, too, though not as much, and I've managed to spot two while diving... Indeed, "the most elegant animals to grace our oceans".

    Beautiful post; thank you! (Only 3 more days—yeeehaaaaa! ;) )
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs

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    1. I'm glad you've enjoyed this post, Guilie. I've only snorkelled fleetingly with whales - never scuba dived with them. I've seen mantas on numerous occasions in different countries when diving and they are utterly fabulous.

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  13. Gorgeous. Whales are one of my favourites, you lucky thing!

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  14. Another wonderful article, Susan. I'm really enjoying them. Aren't whales the most amazing creatures?

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    1. I think whales have always fascinated humans, Sandra. And if you're enjoying my posts I'm achieving my aim. :)

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  15. Beautiful pictures with this post. I've done whale watches in New England but never gotten quite so close up.

    @WeekendsinMaine
    Weekends in Maine

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  16. These are such magnificent mammals. I can only imagine how it must feel to swim near them in the open sea. Beautiful pictures. I've enjoyed each of my visits here.

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    1. The general consensus/law - at least where I've whale watched - is to maintain a distance from the animals and if they choose approach that's the animals' choice, but strictly no harassment on the part of boats or snorkellers.

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  17. They are magnificent. I love to watch documentaries and movies about whales :)

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    1. They are magnificent, Zeljka - and we must never allow them to become extinct due to greedy humans hunting them.

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  18. I would like to go whale spotting one day. I'm sure I will, I just don't know when.

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  19. It can be very satisfying, Jeffrey - I hope you'll get the opportunity to do it.

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  20. I went on a whale-watching boat to see humpback whales when I was in my teens, but that is very neat that you have snorkled with them! They seem like such complex creatures.

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

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    1. I think you're right, Tracy - they are complex and intelligent.

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  21. What an experience of a life time! I wish I could see these wonderful animals the way you did. We went on a whale watch tour but there was a recent hurricane that took all the plankton out. We saw dolphins and many sea sick people including our 2 friends. I couldn't help but giggle at them.

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  22. What a great experience and wonderful photos. Amazing how close you were underwater!

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  23. Awesome photos. Makes me really want to plan on whale watching this summer! I wrote on southern food and memories.

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