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Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Captains Log
February 16 – 23 February 2019
Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Air temperature: 73° - 82° F
Water temperature: 80°F
Visibility: 30 - 60 feet
Thermal recommendation: 3mm/5mm full wetsuit & a windbreaker
Captain: Amanda Smith
2nd Captain: James Wilford
Chef: Chace Gaudreau
Video Pro: Sarah Pearson
Photo Pro: Ben Phillips
Whale Guide: James Whittle
Mike & Ramona, Andrew & Diana, Chris & Heather, Sascha, Chris, Christine, Carol, Steve & Natasha, Tim & Brenda, Jed, Jim, Mike & Mike.
Our Snorkel Site
Sunday – Friday: Silver Bank, Dominican Republic
Its Mike & Mike Week!
With a wake load of guests arriving with all their camera gear filling the camera table and a rainbow of microfiber cloths covering all the lenses we began this photographic adventure. With a very smooth crossing to the Silver Bank early Sunday morning we kicked the week off with the right lens. Entering the bank with a gallery full of whale picture opportunities as we readied the tenders to hit the water to capture the most of the first day.
The in-water encounters were outstanding to the point we didnt know how to fit it all into the cameras display. The calves were playful and full of excitement the moment they saw the cameras. Being super friendly and getting so involved in the photoshoot they would forget how far they would get from mom and she would have to make her way up so we had a model to shoot. After slowly making their way along the surface allowing everyone in the line to get their fill of pictures in she would arch her back and head into the darkroom to rest while the calf enjoyed the limelight. They would put on a show to rival any other by performing pec flaps showing off their belly to the camera or even just posing horizontally on the surface soaking in the attention. Barrel rolling into our SD cards and our hearts they would spend minutes spiraling around before ending with a few fluke flap at the surface to make sure it they still held our attention.
The mother, calf and escort encounters were something else even compared to the mother and calves. We had a young calf staying close to mom while an escort followed behind watching from a distance. The mom was very relaxed and allowed us to spend some time with her baby and while they relaxed and watched from below. After a few breath cycles from the calf we had to get back into the chase boat as the calf was getting too excited with the attention and would swim farther away from mom than she liked so they started moving. Once in the boat the tracking began and we followed them for a few minutes before the calf decide it was a good time to practice breaching. Much to everyones delight and a near tipping of the tender due to a sudden change in their focus causing them to rush to the one side of the boat to get the best view. Once the boat was stable again and the cameras were shooting fast enough to give a gun range a run for its money the mother needed to teach the calf what to do. The mother then starts breaching just behind her baby and pec slapping while the baby was playing around her. The escort then took the chance to show off and did a massive breach next to the boat and then proceeded to just lay there on his back and slam his fluke into the surface. The three of them put on the show for a good 45 minutes while we followed alongside them enjoying the entertainment.
Two males we found that started off slightly rowdy turned into us following them as they would swim up wind and hit each large patch of sargasm floating on the surface. We could see them for the whole time under the surface as they stayed shallow to allow them to come up quickly when needed. They must have enjoyed the feeling of the floating sea weed brush against their tubercles and face. They did this for nearly an hour until all they had left were small thin strips and so they dove down deep with a majestic fluke shot to say goodbye to us.
Luckily enough we were invited to see another encounter that one of the other boats had come across. It was 2 dancing whales, most likely a male and female, which were not swimming but rather staying more vertical and calmly twisting and spinning around each other. At one point we gathered really close together in the water and the one whale thought it funny to do a spy hop right through the middle of our group making us swim back in order to stay out of its way. We kept swapping in and out with the other group to allow the best experience for everyone involved.
We began and ended on such a high note that we all cannot wait to see what is in store for us in the coming week.