MIDDLE CAICOS TOURS
THE ULTIMATE ADVENTURES
" A WHALE OF AN
SIGHT-SEEING TRIPS WITH THE
HUMPBACKS DURING THEIR ANNUAL MIGRATION TO THEIR TRADITIONAL SPAWING
The first encounter was awesome. We had left Grand Turk enroute
to Middle Caicos delivering our new 21' Chris Craft boat .We were
trolling for anything that would have us. We had already hooked and
landed 11 different species of fish from the tip of Phillips Reef to
Drum Point, East Caicos. We were just a mile offshore of the reef
when they first appeared. Three massive bodies rose to the crest of a
6 foot deep blue rolling sea and blew..... I would like to tell you
that we shouted " Whale Ho " or something similar but all we could
come up with was " Holy S--T.
I stood there on deck with fishing lines out, engine idled while
the gentle giants rolled in the turquoise ocean, three abreast
enroute to the Silver Shoals between the Turks & Caicos Islands
and the Dominican Republic. They rose and blew. I am not sure I was
even breathing. I was afraid to move for fear of losing my
concentration on what was to be the first of many encounters with the
gentle giants of the ocean, Humpback Whales....
I finally remembered we had the video camera aboard and reached
for the case not taking my eyes off the spot where they had rose
last. I fumbled with the camera and finally aimed for three bulbous
heads as they gently broke thru the surface and blew a sheet of white
mist some ten feet in air. This was not National Geographic or the
Discovery channel on channel 31, this was the real thing.
Soon after, the wind rolled us around and wrapped four fishing
lines around the prop and it was over. They moved on towards Middle
Caicos & Big Cut while we handled our own big cut... several
hundred yards of monofiliment line wrapped around our propeller. We
cut away and cleared the prop getting us back on the road again
however the delay ate up whatever daylight that was left and we
steamed for Middle Caicos and the only inlet I was familiar with. I
would have loved to linger and catch up for additional photo's but
safety was a bigger consideration and since I was unfamiliar with
these waters we used discretion and headed for home....
That was several years ago, and since then we have encountered
the gentle giants hundreds of times while they migrate to their
traditional spawning grounds, the Silver Shoals which by the way is
the final resting place of " The Sonora Nuestra La Conception " , a
Spanish treasure ship re-discovered some twenty years ago by Burt
Webber of Annville, Pa..
The dreams of a young man brought me to the Caicos in search of
my own treasure, the treasure of peace and tranquillity with virgin
fishing and diving as a bonus. And now this, Humpbacks migrating past
my very front yard.... Thank you lord, my cup is indeed full.
The best was yet to come. In the spring of 95 we were diving for
lobster just offshore of the entrance to big cut when we sighted what
we thought was a single humpback meandering offshore another half
mile or so. I suggested we get as close as possible in order to fill
my memory bank with as much data as possible for someday I will be a
grandfather and tales will abound of my exciting experiences in the
Caicos. My dive buddy suggested we be extremely careful as he was
afraid of the whale coming up underneath the boat capsizing us.
At that moment we were fairly close but the whale headed east in
what appeared to be a small hurry.... We followed and then it
happened, the calf appeared and blew..... I didn't know what to do
other than I knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime and as such I
begged my companion to take me in closer and drop me off. He
absolutely refused stating this was as close as you were going to
get!. I begged and he refused again, finally I convinced him to drive
east several hundred yards ahead of the whales and drop me off,
making sure he kept his eyes on me at all times. Did not want to swim
ashore from three miles out nor did I want to be hurt by this
magnificent creature, either by intent or accident.
Any cow with calf is a potential danger whether on land or sea...
Maternal instincts command they protect their young. Her tail was big
enough to swat me like a fly on a wall.
CLICK ON TO ENLARGE
I could see her coming in my direction. My buddy stood offshore
one hundred yards out while I swam with mask, fins & snorkel to
the encounter of a life time. She and the calf blew past me so fast
at about 80 feet down and out, I hardly had a chance to say hello. I
hailed my buddy and climbed aboard and insisted on one more shot...
This time I would be ready .
This time I positioned myself directly in front of her path . She
would have to eat me or pass me on either side and I would get what I
came for , a memory of memories... If Jaques can do it, so can I...
She spotted me from about fifty feet out and broke inshore of me. For
some reason, she slowed down, perhaps because I did not pose a threat
on our first encounter. The calf sat on mom's back rising and falling
as one, then she released floating to the surface for that ever
She had to slow down to wait for her baby and that is when it
came to me. A forest ranger in Wyoming had told me that if you wanted
to get close to the animals, talk to them. It worked then rewarding
me with some of the most awesome pictures of wild moose in the
I decided to mimic the whale sounds as best I could and schrilled
into the snorkel in as high a tone as this raspy voice would offer.
She darn near stopped dead in her tracks and circled around me
keeping the calf a respectable distance from me. The calf swam about
totally unconcerned about my presence, after all I was like a pimple
on their butts. She was fifty feet long and the calf was 20 feet
long. I just make 6 feet tall... I continued to bellow into the
snorkel so as to let mom know where I was at all times and to assure
her I was not a potential threat or a danger to her calf. We swam in
circles for at least forty minutes gathering views of each other to
tell our grandchildren. The most amazing sight was to see the cow
begin to dive slowly and the calf would climb aboard her back and the
two would be as one. They dove to about 80-90 feet, traversed for a
bit and then the calf would appear to eject from the cockpit and rise
ever so slowly to the surface for another gulp of air.
CLICK ON TO ENLARGE
I see that cow & calf today as I did then, clear as a bell...
We offer this same opportunity to you this day in the hopes that you
too will have something to share with your grandchildren...
We invite you to a " Whale Of An Encounter "
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