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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
26th of January- 2nd of February 2019
Air temperature: 75° - 78° F
Water temperature: 78° - 80°F
Visibility: 40 - 80 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm/5mm full wetsuit & a windbreaker
Captain: Amanda Smith
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Chace Gaudreau
Video Pro: Sarah Pearson
Guide: Ellen Myers
Photo Pro: Ben Phillips
Paul, Kimberley, Chelsea, Kathleen, Andy, Corey, Alex, Jim, Gabrielle, Myriam, Cassie, Vanessa, Cameron, Connor, Larry, Tricia, Derek, Barry
Our Snorkel Site
Saturday: Ocean World Marina, Dominican Republic
Sunday – Friday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
This week we had people come from all over the world to join us on the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II with trip leader Andy Murch from Big Fish Expeditions. Canadians, Americans, Brazilians, and English travelling all the way to Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic for the love of Humpback Whales. After settling in, they reminisced on previous trips with Andy and talked of their excitement for the week to come over tropical rum cocktails. The sounds of Latina karaoke from the Ocean World Marina faded into the background as we set off for the Silver Bank at midnight. At first light, a few early risers were able to catch the first glimpses of whale blows and breaches on the horizon as we neared our destination. After a briefing from Captain Amanda and a filling lunch from Chace, our Chef, we set off for the afternoon on the chase boats for our first whale expeditions.
Throughout the week, we had some incredible whale encounters above and below the surface. The whales were very active as they are still new to the area, and the males are finding a bevy of females to chase around and fight over. Thus, we were not able to spend as much time in the water but it made for some incredible topside encounters. Early in the week, we found a group of adults swimming around with a pod of porpoises! We had over 20 porpoises jumping right near our chase boats, zig- zagging amongst the whales as they slapped their peck fins and tails on the surface. It was a spectacle to watch and incredible to photograph whales and porpoises in the same frame! They swam so close to our boats that a few guests dipped their go pro’s in and got some amazing video of whales swimming amongst the porpoises. One afternoon we encountered a rowdy group, or a couple of males fighting over the attention of one female whale with her calf in tow. We watched and followed from a distance as the males smashed each other into coral heads. They huffed and puffed on the surface covering the guests on the chase boats in whale snot! When one male would near the female the other whale would blow bubbles as a barrier. This behavior went on for a while until the heavyweight champion swam away with his lady and the loser went off to lick his wounds. The next day we saw what we think was the same male that got beaten up the day before. He had fresh pink wounds on his dorsal fin and was swimming very slowly on the surface all alone. Oh the suffering males endure throughout the animal kingdom for the attention of the opposite sex.
Mid-week we encountered the highly sought after valentine behavior that is a true privilege to witness. The female goes into a catatonic state as the male dances around her and she will somewhat imitate his moves. This pair was right at the surface where our guests were able to sneak some go pro footage from the side of the boat. Each and every afternoon, after a full day of adventures around the Silver Bank, we came back to the mother ship to an incredible sunset with specialty cocktails in hand. This week, Captain Amanda’s Pina Colada, was the cocktail fan favorite. After soaking in the hot tub with whales breaching in the painted horizon, guests enjoyed the traditional Aggressor Thanksgiving dinner. One night we even spotted a snake eel swimming just off the back deck. They are rare to see underwater, so it was quite the surprise to see this unique eel on the surface just off the back of the boat. You just never know what you might see out here in this vast expanse of ocean.
On our last day of whale expeditions, we swam with a resting mother and her curious calf. The guests watched on as the calf swam around the mother then curiously swirled through the water towards us. After getting a closer look at us, iit quickly swam off and breeched just in front of us. After watching the calf come right up in front of us then settling back down to its mother just below, they both came up together and we were rendered speechless by her sheer size. The calves alone can weigh around 6 tons but they are still dwarfed by 18 ton mother……, yet they are as gentle and tender as they are gigantic. With just one flick of the tail we are riding the wave of her wake as they swim out of sight. They move through the water so effortlessly and gracefully, it’s as infuriating as it is fascinating.
This final encounter brought the week to a close on a high note as we prepared to leave early the following morning. It’s always bittersweet leaving the bank with the whale spouts fading into the distance but our sadness was quickly remedied by Chef Chace’s slow roasted BBQ pork and spicy coleslaw for lunch. Guests will be able to reminisce the week gone by for the rest of their lives with the complimentary photos by our photo pro Ben. We will miss this eclectic group of guests, but we look forward to having Big Fish Expeditions on board again next year!