I have always been a bad omen at anything like this. Once in Mexico, the captain told us that they’d seen hundreds of playful dolphins the day before. Not the day I went. Likewise gray whales in San Diego one time. I did see the arse of an alligator in the alligator infested Everglades, but didn’t see one bear in Yosemite, not a wild toucan in Belize, nor a jaguar in Nicaragua. Indeed a quest to see mating glow worms in Bermuda was fruitless, at least for me if not the worms.
Even Guy the Gorilla was given the day off when my Grandad took us to London Zoo when I was kid….
So on Easter Sunday when we got invited to go with some friends the see the humpback whales that migrate north past the island of Bermuda I made it clear to everybody that they should lower their expectations.
We left Dockyard at 10am with around 50 other people on boat open top-decked boat run by Fantasea. We were hardly around by the south shore when the skipper starts off by telling everyone that we should get our cameras ready as you never know when one of these 40 foot long and 40 ton heavy mammals might pop up. We saw loads yesterday he said. I put my camera back in my pocket.
The tour was set for 5 hours and after fully 3.5 we had long lost sight of the fish hook shaped isle of Bermuda and were heading for Challenger Banks, a haven for fishermen, about 12 miles out in the Atlantic. The water was as flat as it could possibly be, although with nothing to grab our attention other than fellow boats chasing hidden whales, there were a few sunken looking faces trying not to think about what they had for breakfast. Our friends 11-year old one of them, poor sod.
As we neared our 4th hour the boat guide suddenly jumped up. “Whale” he said, and sure enough in the distance was a couple of these distinctive dark grey and white beauties. We got closer and saw others as they toyed with us in the distance. But I was happy as was the whole boat, we had seen with our own eyes these curious and incredible mammals as they make their way from the Caribbean to their feeding ground in north east Canada, Greenland and Iceland.
It was time, the skip said, to turn back to the island. People relaxed and sat down as we started the cruise back to shore, but then my luck changed.
Suddenly we appeared upon a group of humpback whales close to the surface of the water, their shadows causing large pools of a turquoise haze just under surface. We didn’t quite get to see them breach but they were playful and acrobatic, blowing large sprays of water from their blowhole’s. They were close often disappearing under the boat and it was great to see them in their open environment as close as we did.
As we finally departed to head home, everyone was in good spirits and I may have finally broken my hoodoo.