Well, where do I begin? Though I have not been kayaking I have been doing lots of hiking and photography on land. I sure do love to deviate as my passion and curiosity takes me. I've developed a love for this magnificent creature in our backyard during the summer months. The Humpback whale is an amazing docile sea mammal.......in my experience, and I have had some encounters that have yet to be topped by any human being I know. Awe we'll just put landscapes aside for now. I want to share some of the more intimate interactions over the last year or so.
We rented zodiacs about four times last summer. 3 photographers, a kindling passion, a keen since of kinship and a love of pictures. This kindling passion ignites with a such a thunderous roar inside your chest the moment one breaks the surface you start to try and break your captivation so as to start shooting and sometimes I miss shots because I just want to see it all before it quickly disappears. Content to sail away knowing that i may not have a photo but I sure do have the image imprinted on my mind and I can go back to that anytime. But you do get shots. This fin is huge, some measure 6-8 feet or longer I've seen. I like the barnacles clinging to the outer edges glistening gold in the late evening sun.
I was also captivated by this, lobbing! Humpbacks like to smack their tails on the surface sometimes and it is very loud. This went on for about 5-8 minutes and the columns of water being released by the tail flicking motion sprayed seawater for feet, into the air. We give them the right of way and our encounters are respectful. Our boat guide and learned captain keeps track of the whales that visit by collecting photos from people who shoot the whales and he identifies them individually ( based on their tail markings, much like they identify Orcas) to see which ones return each year.
This guy was so gorged from the kapelin they come to Newfoundland to feed on in summer months that I was surprised to see him setting up for a deep dive. You can tell he is going deep by the almost vertical angle of his tail. We never did find this fellow again. It was loppy. It is a whale tale though! The one that got away I guess : ).
The Humpback in the foreground is a baby. You can tell by his smaller dorsal fins and blowhole and well just his obvious smaller size. He was jumping around frantically when we first encountered the three of them. Two parents I am assuming and the little one. I thought at first he was playing but when I got home I zoomed in on my shots and I saw that he was obviously attacked. There were literally huge chunks missing everywhere but he was a trooper and moved around with what looked like ease but a bit wildly and I am thinking that perhaps the air felt good on some of his wounds. When they were leaving the area they all merged together and majestically swam away into their briny world.
There had been Orca sitings all summer and no doubt they must have encountered one or more. We see the transient Orcas in this part of the world. The ones that travel the oceans in search of prey and feeding grounds.
One of the bigger Humpbacks had sizable bumps and dents. The family in tact they disappeared, but nature can be cruel when you see it in the wild. That, to me you have to understand for what it is in that world......survival of the fittest. It is still out there. Amazingly!!!
I hope to see that little fellow this year though. I have pictures where some of his biggest wounds were and some shots of his tail.......we'll see.
Tail shots are so beautiful when you can get the water flowing of the back fluke and reflecting the falling sun leaving this day. I textured this and tried to create some neat sharp edges on the water spray.
Not much will beat a Humpback breach when you can see and experience it. I still do not have the one I'd like but the sound of them impacting the water when they fall back down is thunderous slapping as their thick outer skin meets the viscosity and surface tension of the ocean water below.
Sometime they just do not want to fall back with a slap. They will jump spiral and do a shallow dive spraying water in a briny vortex, a miniature hurricane, around them it seems. The shear power and intensity is mammoth in proportion.
And so every breach is followed by an absolute and unavoidable return even if it was to have a fleeting glimpse of the world above it's true domain.
Blowholes on Humpbacks are huge and they kind of remind me of the tips of trunks on elephants. They appear very sensitive and very reactive and in motion lots especially , of course, when surfacing and submerging back down under the water. Observing these holes can give you a little information on what they might be preparing to do next. Some will just come and swim by your boat and observe you for very long minutes at a time. Emerging perpendicular to their long form and spinning with their eyes just above the water.. .....staring at you!
This was shot head on to a Humpback getting ready to dive with his blowhole closed. I cannot begin to explain to you how wide this whale was and gorged with food. This was shot at the end of their visit to Newfoundland. He was friggin'....friggin' big.
Of course when very close and feeling and smelling their blowhole spray landing all over and all around you, you become very aware of what their last meal was.
Everyone wants to feel safe when on the water. Right? We kayak. We know what it is like to paddle with someone else and in groups. We are very acute to the feeling of safety it brings. Or not. Some just like to paddle alone.
I'm not sure if this Puffin was thinking safety as much as he may have been thinking near miss. I know that puffins are very familiar with humpbacks even though they seem to be traveling at Mach 1 to be familiar with anything would be nothing short of an accomplishment.
They know Humpbacks have not much interest in them. Unless they enjoy them flying above their heads in some natural harmony.
This remains one of my favorite shots of a Humpback as he is yet again about to dive. I have it enlarged in the hallway of our home. The sheath of water rolling off his back, that has to be less than millimeters thin, can be seen cascading down his sides as he goes under. I just went to have a look again, and you can see the individual folds inside his blowhole that makes the hydro seal he needs upon entering his depths.
Well I had to dust the cobwebs of this blog somehow.
Time for the water. It's time for the water.