Whale Day

By: Arjen Drost

Aug 11 2015

Tags: , , ,

Category: mammals, nature, Photography, Polar

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Aperture:f/7.1
Focal Length:600mm
ISO:200
Shutter:1/640 sec
Camera:
Blue Whale

The problem with a good day like we had at the beginning of the cruise is that is raises the expectations for the rest of the cruise. How can we keep up with a day like that… Fortunately August 2nd came close. Overnight we made a big jump and now we found ourselves in the Woodfjord/Liefdefjord area. After a nice landing in Bockfjord we sailed towards our destination for the afternoon, Texas Bar. Knowing this area is good for both bears and whales I spent quite some time on the bridge of Plancius, searching both the shores as the sea. Conditions were great, with nice sunshine and a flat calm sea. Anything that should pop up in the water would be visible. The lunch watch just resulted in a brief sighting of a Minke Whale, one of the smallest baleen whales. During dinner another one was seen.

After dinner I decided to have another look from the bridge. Soon I overheard a conversation over the radio by two other ships about a Blue Whale they had seen. Both ships were 10 nautical miles away, so the whale should also be far (10nm is a bit over 18.5km). But with these calm conditions I was still confident we would be able to see things from a distance. Both other ships were heading off to their next destinations, so it seemed they were not looking at all at the whales, which made my search a bit harder. Fortunately Blue Whales are pretty big animals (in the North Atlantic up to 24m long, so there was something to look for. After some time scanning the horizon with my new binoculars, I saw something black popping up in the water. More focus again… Fortunately the ship was moving in the right direction… A bit later it was back again, definitely a whale, and it looked bigger as a Minke… I called the rest of the expedition team and several binoculars were scanning. Slowly we came closer and closer. Soon we realized there were two individuals, one much bigger as the other: a mother and calf. And even though the animals were still not much more as a black shadow in the water, we could already determine they were Blue Whales indeed!! When we had gotten a bit closer, the whales were now visible with the naked eye, an announcement was made. It was already past 10 pm, so several people were dragged out of bed, but now everybody could enjoy the very nice sight of two of the biggest animals that have ever lived on this planet (bigger even as the dinosaurs) in awesome conditions. There was hardly any wind, so no waves and the later it got, the better light we had. The captain did a splendid job of following the whales, who did not seemed to be bothered at all by our presence. I think we spent nearly an hour near those magnificent animals before we left them alone and moved on to our destination for the next day.
Now our problem has only gotten bigger. Two awesome days, way better as anyone could have expected. How will we keep up with that tomorrow? Well, that’s something to worry about later, now we must enjoy what we have got…

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