Tag: Silver Bank

Reflections on Whales–Going Home

Reflections on Whales–Going Home

Thursday–High wind, rough water. Grounded…on the mothership. The whales have not been as numerous this week as in weeks past. Even with fewer whales sighted, those that chose to interact really gave us the best of humpback whale curiosity, engagement and presence.

Each whale-loving human spent the day in various states of waiting….for the weather to improve, for whales to find us again, to have one last opportunity to commune with Angels of the Sea. But it never happened.

Friday–The 90 mile journey from the Silver Bank to Ocean World Marina on the north side of the Dominican Republic began a bit past sunrise…as soon as the captain could safely navigate through the coral heads into open ocean.

I didn’t feel the sadness I usually feel when leaving the Silver Bank. That’s a relief as the two previous years the re-entry from whale bliss to everyday life has been challenging. For some reason, it feels okay to be headed inland. Perhaps I finally understand the connection never goes away…it’s always inside, always present, no matter where I find myself.

Roadside market…closed for the afternoon.

SaturdayWritten at the airport:

The 90 minute drive from Puerto Plata to Santiago winds through mountains. I am struck with the utter poverty that SO many people live in. All along the highway are concrete shelters…I can’t call them homes. But they are to those who live there. Many have steel bars on the windows and doors. That struck me as odd.

We passed a girl, probably about ten years in age, standing beside the road dressed up in very modern clothes performing to an imaginary audience. Waiting for someone to discover her genius, her beauty….her talent. Her stage presence reminded me of American Idol.

So many cultures attempt to copy the USA–The American Dream.

But there is a dark side I wish I could share with them. Our beloved country is regressing daily. Greed is now exposed as the driving force behind all policy and governing. So much for freedom…of religion, of the Press, of assembly. The very values that made our country such a unique and beautifully evolving democratic Republic are hourly being tossed in the toilet.

Sweet friends who think the USA is setting the example for prosperity and success….we are currently destroying laws that protected our precious resources of water, clean air…desecrating sacred lands and places. We now mirror back to the world the absolute truth of what happens when greed and the love of money dictate policy and politics.

Dear friends from the many beautiful and wonderful countries of this Ocean Planet, please do not long to be like us for we are uprooting a deep, darkness that threatens everything our ancestors worked so diligently to create.

Work in your homes, your native lands, to deepen your values and desire for a better life by cultivating fairness and compassion in your hearts and minds. Care for all life. Strive to acknowledge and build on the beauty in your backyard…in your hearts and minds…in your communities. And please, every morning, say a little prayer for us. I’ll do the same for you.


As I was writing at the airport the guy sitting behind me at the gate started playing Imagine by John Lennon on his phone. Tears streamed down my face as I turned and thanked him. He was embarrassed because he didn’t intend to play it out loud…sometimes Great Spirit, the Universe, God….whatever you call It…orchestrates little reminders.

Lyrics to Imagine by John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

The trip was a good one as evidenced by the salt stains on my cap. If you are interested in whales I invite you to visit the Center for Coastal Studies website. Read about a whale I photographed that is recovering from propeller wounds in the Epilogue of this series….in the next post. Piano is followed by the scientists there. And….if you want cool whale merch, check out their site. They do amazing work!!!




Rainbow Thursday-Part 2

Rainbow Thursday-Part 2

SimoneLipscomb (13) First Encounter April 2nd

Mom and Baby…. O. M. G. !!!

The juvenile came right up to me…have no idea if I got photos or video but it was so close I saw the soft, gray of the face, the deep folds of skin and the eye looking into my eyes. It was within ten feet of me. So beautiful. So deeply profound.

SimoneLipscomb (7)Then later lob tailing by mom and baby, breaching with both, fin slapping. Amazing….AMAZING!

There was such a sense of profound peace when floating above the mom and calf. It is as if all the secrets of the deep are carried within her and I can witness these truths, this wisdom that is beyond anything I’ve ever known.

As I watched exhalations carried by the wind I smelled the fish wondrous whale breath. Perhaps I’ve slipped over the edge…over and over the edge.

SimoneLipscomb (44)
Mother and juvenile humpback practicing their lob tailing

I stood on the small boat photographing mama and baby with rain softly running down my face mixed with salty tears. I thought, I am loved (lob tail from whales) I am cared for (another lob tail). I am supported (thunderous SLAP!! with those flukes). Such sweetness.

SimoneLipscomb (39)This morning as I stood on the dive deck observing the rainbow, mother and juvenile humpbacks, tears also came. So deeply did I feel that everything in my life is moving in the right direction. I realized the more I surrender, the more opportunities arise. My love for the Ocean is deep and has been a guiding spark since I was a child and begged my parents to allow me to order (for free) the Jacques Cousteau book (which I still have).

SimoneLipscomb (18)
Mother whale fluke with our boat, Turks & Caicos Explorer II, in the background


We saw one mother and baby briefly in really deep, rough water. It was an in-water encounter but wasn’t long as mama didn’t settle and it was difficult for us to hold a position in the rough seas. We were outside the protection of the reef so I don’t think anyone complained when we re-boarded the tender and headed back inside the reef.

Our sister boat with the other half of our group.
Our sister boat with the other half of our group.

The rest of the afternoon I stood on the side of the small boat and watched for whales. Deep in thought, I rode. It gave me time to reflect and prepare for leaving this magical place tomorrow morning. I kept hearing the first part of D.H. Lawrence’s poem, Whale Weep Not. “They say the sea is cold but the sea contains the hottest blood of all, and the wildest and the most urgent.”

Soft-encounter with mother and baby
Soft-encounter with mother and baby

I stood riding the waves from my perch on the boat with tears pouring down my cheeks and the ocean splashing on my left foot. I felt in perfect balance and so happy, so incredibly happy and joy-full. Such yearning within to spend more time on the Ocean, in the Ocean in the presence of whales.


Whales Notes: A soft-encounter is where humans are allowed to float quietly in the Ocean observing humpback whales. Touching is not allowed. The quieter and more still, the better the encounter. Mothers rest and sleep suspended in the water column and babies come up to breathe. If the group of humans stay together and within sight of mama whale, it’s best. Juvenile surfaces, breathes, circles and goes back down to tuck under mama. Because their buoyancy isn’t perfected, the babies need mom’s stable body to help them stay submerged.

SimoneLipscomb (53)Entanglements are deadly to whales and other sea life. Some fishing practices use large lines and traps and once a whale is entangled in these heavy lines, it can cause major problems for them. Notice the large scar on this mother whale’s tail. Luckily she was freed and now has a happy, wild baby born this year. Other whales are not so lucky.

Whale Diary One

Whale Diary Two

Whale Diary Three

Whale Diary Four

Whale Diary Five

Notice the entanglement scar that goes around the entire tail. The dorsal side has the deepest scar....
Notice the entanglement scar that goes around the entire tail. The dorsal side has the deepest scar….
SimoneLipscomb (81)
Mother fin slapping with juvenile lob tailing