Friday, May 1, 2009

Pilot Whale Encounter

During our three tank long range dive in which we traveled south along the coastline to get to a dive site called Au Au Canyon, we met along the way spinner dolphins, the humpback whales seen in the post below, a pod of pilot whales and a white tip oceanic shark. Dennis even popped out our underwater snapshot camera to take a few pictures of me taking pictures of the wildlife! While we were along side the humpback cow and calf a few of the divers jokingly said "we should make our dive right here!" Captain Jim responded with a smirk, "that will cost you twenty thousand dollars." This stunned some of the divers and when they inquired why he stated that because these whales are on the endangered species list it would cost him a fee of $10,000 to allow such diving, and then HE would charge and additional $10,000 for a finders fee and for the hassle of filling out paperwork. ;) Some of us considered the possibility for a moment... in the water with humpback whales... maybe another dive.

Then as we were watching these two we saw a few other zodiak boats about a mile or so away. Curious about the congregating boats we went to take a look as well and found ourselves amongst a pod of it seemed like twenty or more pilot whales. They were curious about some of our boats and passed by quite close to us.

Following directly behind the pod in about five to seven feet of water we also could make out the white tip and large bluish gray body of an oceanic shark scavenging behind the pod. I tried to capture his shadow and white tip beneath the surface of the water on a couple of camera shots but unfortunately they didn't turn out as I had hoped. But the whales were not camera shy!
Now, this was the place to jump in and take a look around as pilot whales are not on the endangered list. Instead they are listed as protected if I remember correctly. Now this doesn't mean to jump in and harass or disturb them in anyway. This simply could be a swim with snorkel fins mask and get a few underwater snapshots. There was really just one problem in my mind. THE WHITE TIP OCEANIC SHARK!!! They are not necessarily aggressive, but are known to become so if agitated. In fact we were observing this pod for long enough that our dive master, Vinny, almost couldn't contain his excitement to dive in rather than stay in the boat. I was so happy that these whales, too, were content to be the subject of the following photos. We couldn't believe our luck! Two species of whales within twenty minutes of each other! AWESOME!!!

1 comment:

Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

How wonderful!!!! I can only imagine your joy to be able to see TWO species of whales in that short amount of time. LOVELY photos!!!!