Don’t Let Sleeping Whales Lie …

Note: A followup to this post has been posted

 

… you might just run over them!

That’s certainly what we thought we were going to do when we ran upon a large Humpback Whale that was sleeping at the surface. We had just left Pack Creek a couple hours earlier and were headed back south. If you remember my pre-Pack Creek posts, we were in whale-rich waters where we saw lots and lots of humpback whales as we traveled. Well, as we entered these same waters heading south, we again ran into massive numbers of humpbacks. At the time, I had climbed the ladder to get on the boat’s “flying bridge”, which is the uppermost portion of the boat, well above the deck. As we traveled into the pods of humpbacks, we came upon a large whale that was “counting sheep”. At first, we didn’t even see him; not much of the whale was above the water surface:

 

Sleeping Humpback Whale

 

As you can see in the above photo, there is no water movement around the behemoth, except for the natural wave action.

But as we neared him we began banging on the boat and yelling to the Captain (the skies were gray, the waters gray, and the Captain didn’t even see him until we were right next to him!). The whale quickly came to life. First, he let out an excrutiatingly loud “screeching sound” as he exhaled through his blow hole … remember, he was right next to the boat! Then, he lay on the surface for a brief moment, apparently recovering from his catnap, until he was awake enough to realize what was going on. Then, he began to swim, right at the water surface. As he did, one of his giant pectoral fins gracefully swept under our boat. The water made it a bit difficult to see, but the white patches on his fin could be seen several feet under the boat as he swept the fin to gain some momentum. An awesome sight! Here is an animated GIF file I prepared that helps to see the whale’s long fin, extending under our boat (sure wish I had my polarizing filter on when this happened!). Please allow a few seconds for the GIF to start cycling through:

 

Humpback Whale extends pectoral fin under our boat

 

 

I had often heard that these gentle giants sleep in short increments, by lying still on the surface. But I never thought I’d witness such a sight!

 

Tomorrow, another Fun Friday post … Hmmmm, what will it be? :o)

 

 

 

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