Tag: Humpback Whales

Reflections on Whales–Part IV

Reflections on Whales–Part IV

Buddy & Willie Fay Meet a Baby Whale

February 22

Sunrise was spectacular. There were brilliant, fat, vermillion streaks in the eastern sky then that color transferred to small, thin clouds surrounding the moon’s silver sliver. The crescent was surrounded by an amazing brilliant orange whisper of color. Then the illumination of sunrise lit up a cauldron of puffy clouds in an orange, peach, pink, gray mixture of colors and eventually the western sky was alive with color as the east faded to a pale yellow canopy.

I forgot to write about the three whales playing around the mothership late yesterday afternoon. Two members of the crew were scuba diving to check the mooring line and the captain was using the bow thrusters to keep the ship stable. We think perhaps the whales were drawn to the vibration of the thrusters. The provided quite a show of spy-hopping and playing around the divers. After the mooring was secured again, the captain got his drone out and the female whale was very interested in it. She spy-hopped and then pushed up toward the drone as it hovered over her.

Observing the curiosity and interest in human activities by the whales was quite amazing. Because the female spy-hopped so much within ten feet or less of the bow, I was able to capture very detailed photographs of the head with my telephoto lens. In particular the tubercles stood out.

Humpback whale fact: They have between 30 and 60 tubercles around the jaw and within each tubercle is a hair. Thick nerve cells surround the hair and scientists have puzzled over the function. Possibilities include: measure subtle vibrations, track movement of water and prey, measure electromagnetic fields, measure temperature and salinity and aid in their super-agile leaps and spins. These hairy bumps have even inspired wind turbine, airplane wing and propeller designs.

Being so close to curious, intelligent beings that are 45 feet long still makes me smile as I review my journal from two weeks ago. Oh….and then there was the rest of the day.


I was waiting for one of these whale days. Perhaps the previous afternoon’s encounter was the prelude.

It began with a group of whales. It wasn’t the full-blown pushing and shoving matches I’ve seen, when the males are intently pursuing a female and putting up a good fight for her affection. This was more like relaxed play. After following the four whales and observing from the small boat we received a radio transmission that whales were back at the mothership.

The crew identified the female as the same one that was so inquisitive with the divers and drone. She was even more curious with very close approaches to the motors (not in gear/props off) of the tenders, the stern of the mothership and even us, as we observed. The male patrolled the perimeter and she swam among our groups, nosed the tenders, spy-hopped and generally provided the most incredible display of beauty and trust.

I cropped this image to show her eye

Eye-to-eye contact with cetaceans is always special but there is a profound depth of presence when a humpback offers a glimpse into her mind via her baseball-sized eye.

Finally the male lured his gal from her inquisitive play to rest. As she settled below us to rest, the male continued to patrol. Sometimes he swam below her as she hovered motionless and other times he swam over her back. There was no mistaking (at least to me) they were lovers. And finally they swam off together and disappeared into the blue.


There is nothing else to say.


Reflections on Whales–Part III

Reflections on Whales–Part III

February 21

Rough, gray sky, chilly day. Yoga under the stars was challenging with the boat rocking so much. The whales were out frolicking elsewhere for the most part. Not many were seen in our little corner of the Silver Bank.

But late in the day, after almost eight hours on the water in the small boat, a mother and calf gifted us with a very short but incredibly SWEET encounter. I entered the water and swam up to the guide. The viz wasn’t good but mom was horizontal and baby hanging tail-down/nose-up in the water column. Two fish were playing at the baby’s nose.

(For video…click the file)

Slowly, ever-so-slowly, the calf began to rise up. She swam toward me (although Karen might say she swam toward her) and made eye contact. WHEW! That’s the candy!

I glanced down as baby breathed at the surface and mom was rising up beneath us. She also made eye contact with her magnificent, huge eye and watched each of us floating in complete and total awe. Her pectoral fin passed within a few feet of us as she turned.

One encounter like that can make eight hours of rough water and cold-endurance worth it. SO WORTH IT!



Reflecting on Whales–Part II

Reflecting on Whales–Part II

Feb 20

Yoga under stars and half moon. Calm seas. Message received during yoga: Navigate by the stars….and even when I can’t see them doesn’t mean they are not there. 

Today’s whale encounters were centered around a male and female whale in their dreaming/resting state. I was able to drop into meditation with the female and felt my mind expand. I saw the Universe through her mind and floated, suspended in awe.

When I looked into her eye I felt a strong connection to her mind, like I could see constellations of the sky. It was as if the Universe was contained within it. Last year I came away from my humpback whale encounters suspecting they spend their time dreaming and connecting with the Universe while in the warm, tropical waters of the Dominican Republic rather than simply sleeping. This experience strengthened that idea. I could feel her connection with the Cosmic Mind, Universal Consciousness.

As I ‘saw’ this in the whale, I asked to be shown directly and opened my mind to her mind. It’s challenging to explain my experience in words so I’ll summarize with this: When I felt completely filled with Universal Consciousness, there was a huge rush of emotional energy that moved throughout my body and out through the top of my head. We had been still and quiet together until I felt the rush of energy explode like a fountain from my head…in that exact moment she twitched, gave a final look at me and then ascended to breathe. It felt as if she ‘said,’ Okay, you got it!

Although I am concerned about the biology of whales and the science behind their survival, the call to which I respond is a spiritual one. The energy with which they live and move and have their being in the sea is profound and connects me to that aspect of my own being. I believe they are planetary dreamers and their dreaming is absolutely a necessary part of the web of energy that connects all life on the planet.

Unlike science–which begins with a hypothesis and is followed by asking questions, gathering and examining evidence and seeing if the information can be combined to a logical answer–a spiritual connection is very subjective with little proof. That doesn’t bother me, though. For me it’s very real and profound…life-changing. Experiences like this help me expand my mind, think about life differently and hopefully apply that to all situations in my life.

I stopped trying to label mystical connections with animals and places long ago. I am simply grateful for these moments of expansion that lead to greater understanding…of species other than myself and of my soul’s journey with them.



Reflecting on Whales–Part I

Reflecting on Whales–Part I

February 19th

The tip of the orange orb peeked from behind the horizon. Rapidly it climbed in the east, transforming the light blue sky to deep azure striped with brilliant tangerine clouds stretching overhead. I closed my eyes to breathe in the day and when I opened them all color had vanished from the misty, wispy cloud-beings. Their white skeletons hung colorless, no longer blushing with radiance. What an awakening they had as their tails painted the heavens.

Now the whales breathe their white hot breath in the distance. They weave magic in this place that lifts all heaviness. Their freedom gives me freedom and so I awaken to the magnificent life–the magnificent, abundant life.

Earlier, as I watched the sun rise…no, before that…after yoga under the half moon and stars when I sat on the top deck of the steadily rocking boat, I struggled between being in-the-moment–absorbent, sponge-like, of the indigo water, blue sky and orange clouds–and diving into my writer’s mind that wanted to begin weaving words.

With determination I remained open, receptive and gifted myself the present…the Experience–wind on my face, sea spray baptizing me with holy water. “Wait,” I said aloud. “Be here. Feel it. You will remember.”

So I surrendered to the day, to the beauty and longing of my soul to be free of thoughts and words and plans.

Now I glance up from the writing and a whale blows in the distance. I am drawn deeper, deeper into their weaving, their magic as I leave everything else behind.


I leaned my ear against the side of the boat. Arias and riffs of deep, booming base and high whistles vibrated through the hull and created an opening in my heart. Tears trickled down my tilted face. We actually heard the whale song over the purr of the engine. We stopped, turned off the outboard motor and listened. Amazing! Never saw the singer but he serenaded us through the watery depths as we floated motionless in the Atlantic Ocean.

Also had a nice visit with a mother humpback and her baby in the water. It was a delicious day which I consumed with gratitude. 

Juvenile humpback showing off that beautiful fluke!