Off to the port beam we could see three whales, and as almost all of us have no experience with whale watching, a quick discussion developed concerning which species we were seeing. Some rapid photo images with long lenses soon showed these were enormous humpback whales. Humpbacks have a number of readily recognisable features including a white underside to the tail, white bellies, a low dorsal fin, nobbly protruberences (tubercles) on the head and often have barnacles growing on their chins. Even at a distance these features became recognisable.
|Two humpbacks, one showing dorsal fin and the other the tail|
|Humpback spy hopping; see barnacles on chin|
As we continued to look out to sea in the afternoon, we could see spray all around the ship from whales in the distance. Our day was completed when some of the individual whales began to breach. This is when they leap completely out of the water and crash back into the sea sending up massive amounts of spray. The whales stayed with the ship all day until our time at station E2 ended with the recovery of Isis and steaming south with the fresh memory of a truly remarkable experience.
|Humpback expelling air as spray|