MIDDLE CAICOS TOURS

THE ULTIMATE ADVENTURES  

" A WHALE OF AN ENCOUNTER "

SIGHT-SEEING TRIPS WITH THE HUMPBACKS DURING THEIR ANNUAL MIGRATION TO THEIR TRADITIONAL SPAWING GROUNDS 

 

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.

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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 precious air.

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 Tetons.

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.

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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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