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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captain’s Log
February 09 – February 16 2019
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Air temperature: 75° - 82° F
Water temperature: 79°F
Visibility: 30 - 60 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm/5mm full wetsuit & a windbreaker
Captain: Amanda Smith
Engineer: Rob Smith
Chef: Chace Gaudreau
Video Pro: Ellen Myers
Photo Pro: Ben Phillips
Whale Guide: James Whittle
Michael & Cora, Alois & Tanja, Ulrich & Birgit, Margarete, Christiane, Markus, Jochen, Rainer & Helga, Matthias & Claudia, Tony, Ortwin, Mathias & Tweet
Our Snorkel Site
Sunday – Friday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
This week we had the chance to show the delight of the whales to Waterworld, a dive operator from Austria. They arrived in their group from a short stay on island before the adventure would begin. Once they settled down and enjoyed some rum punch on the sundeck overlooking the marina entrance and the open seas that would guide them to the whales they were eager to see. Our chef had prepared a delicious meal that was enjoyed by all and ended with a round of applause from everyone, this was a small phenomenon that would happen at the end of each day to the chef’s delight. The guests had all gone to bed for some rest to fully enjoy the incredible week that was in store for them. With a gentle swell beginning the journey to the Silver Banks the trip was not rough and allowed for a decent night’s rest.
Arriving just before 9 am we were expertly navigating the coral heads that are just protruding the water’s surface to ensure a safe arrival thanks to the captain. All the while everyone was running around the sides of the boat trying to choose which of the whales to shoot a picture as they greeted us at the Banks. Even while preparing the chase boats and getting the boat ready for the week ahead the whales kept surfacing around the boat.
The week was highly eventful with us being able to view the whales doing all the things whales love to do. With some fun encounters in water to some splashy times top side whilst in the boats. We heard some singers, saw a valentine, some mothers with their calves and some with an escort, rowdy males, spy hops, tail lobs and plenty of fluke action and even some whales basking in the sun at the surface surfing the swells.
The calves were very playful this week with one of them swimming close to Margarete when it got curious with the group in the water. It was happily swimming around the surface in a small crescent shape while mom relaxed below watching the events unfold and ensuring her baby didn’t stray too far from her. Most of the mothers this week were very calm about us playing with their calves and would occasionally move on a short distance after taking a breath only due to the calf wanting to explore a little bit further than mom was comfortable allowing it to go. 2 of the encounters had an escort alongside and they normally hang around underneath the mother and only breathe on the mother’s alternate breath cycle. The 1 escort seemed to be an older calf that was almost fighting the calf for mother’s attention the way it was sticking so close to her and was smaller than most other escorts we have seen. Some rowdy males are the reasons why we had to leave the calves because the mother would quickly swim away with her baby to keep them from harm.
Only 1 valentine pair was seen this week even due to the fact it was Valentines week the whales didn’t seem to get the notice and there was no apparent love in the water. They were very playful with each other and the one group that managed to see them. The female was doing all sorts of acrobatics underwater as well as just laying on her back for a period of time almost as if she wanted to soak up some sun underwater. The male was slightly less playful but was having more fun at the surface with the boat while catching his breath.
Throughout the week we had been hearing some song in the water but could not pin point the exact location or find male. On the last day however, we were lucky enough to get invited by one of the other boats at the Bank with us who happened to find it. Getting into the water you were able to not only hear the song but also feel it reverberate through your entire body especially in your chest and stomach. The boat drivers could also hear the song even over the sound of the wind, swells and engines. Both of our boats were able to enjoy the full experience of the song multiple times as we would switch out between us every 8 – 10 minutes when he would come up for a breath. The song has changed somewhat from previous years and contains some more chirping than there was last year.
The rowdy males this week were not staying around for as long as they normally do but it was still a show to behold. The pec flapping and fluke slapping was just as entertaining as ever, we had a group of 3 males showing their stuff not far from the boat. Another group we ran into just off the main reef bank was surfing the swells while they played with each other. They were moving quite fast but we were able to keep up with the chase boat and stay alongside them. They gave us a lot of fluke action and showed off their barnacles to give us an ideas of the damage they can do with them. They did a few spirals and bathed in the sun before giving us a final wave of their fluke and disappeared.
Our one group managed to find 2 whales spy hopping around the boat. It was a rather peculiar sight as we were just waiting to see the spray of a whale nearby to start tracking, the 1 whale suddenly just poked his head up not far from the boat and hovered there for a few seconds and then disappeared. We waited to see if it would happen again but were surprised when a different whale popped up and then slid back down. We waited a bit longer and they both popped up on either side of the boat. All we could think of was a game of Whack-a-mole with them popping up around us and we didn’t know where to look.
There was more fluke action this week be it diving down, being rowdy at the surface or just giving a tail lob, there were plenty to see. A few whales were calm and settled and didn’t mind having us in the water with them but as soon as some males came past they gave us a tail lob and left. Some just enjoyed giving us the tail and would fluke flap and tail lob for a couple of minutes before resting and them going at it again for a while longer.
There was also an encounter with some dolphins as we were looking for whales, while waiting in the tender we saw a few dolphins playing along the surface and swam past our boat and went on their way. It was a short break from trying to spot the larger mammals.
Ending the week with the cheese and wine party whilst recapping the great sights we had seen that week was very exciting. Looking forward to the joys of the new week ahead.