Close Encounter...

About 4 years ago I went on my first ever Whale watching tour with a group of local photographers. It ended up being one of my top 10 most memorable wildlife experiences. I've been wanting to get back out there again but each year something has prevented me from doing so.

A few days ago I contacted Jerry Curtis to find out if I could tag along with him and a few other photographers on their next trip out. I got an e-mail from him saying everything was a go for last night...so at 6:30pm we hit the water with EcoTours in one of their Zodiacs with Danny as our lead guide. Danny was amazing and his understanding of these whales was amazing.

Since its later now in the season for whales they were a little further way from Witless Bay so we had a 20min ride along the coastline. The waters were getting rougher the further we went out and to be honest I was getting the feeling we weren't going to see any whales when a mother and her calf was spotted about a km ahead of us. 

We began the session by shooting into the light which was difficult but created some dramatic images.

Danny our guide said that he had learned some tricks that he wanted to test out which would make the whales playful and curious about us. Danny leaned over the edge of the Zodiac and started to bang on the side. This obviously sent vibrations into the water and before we knew it the whales approached.

He asked if anyone could whistle loud which would also entice them. So I began to whistle as loud as I could.

To my surprise it worked and up they came

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and again

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For over an hour we spent time with these two and they were so playful. Slapping their tails in the water and spraying water all over us. The lighting at times was dramatic but difficult because one moment it would be very intense the next it would be muted by the clouds. It did allow for nice wider shots.

At one point the mother dove and Danny yelled out get ready guys shes going to breach and boy was he right. In total she breached four times for sure. Here are two of the breaches I captured.

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Breaches are not easy to capture as you have no idea where the whale will appear.

From this trip I truly started to understand how smart these massive mammals are. Not once did they make contact with our boat even though they would slap their tails and fins only feet from the boat. If we would pull away they would rise their heads out of the water to see where we were..

As the light slowly faded away it was time to say goodbye to these beautiful creatures for another year.