Five to seven thousand humpback whales migrate to the Silver Bank off the Dominican Republic every year between January and April. Taylor and I joined them on their Caribbean get away last week. The baby whales, if you can call a 20 foot creature a baby, are still learning to control their bouyancy and breathing. They have to surface every 4 to 5 minutes to breathe. Their mother will surface every 15 to 20 minutes.
This is one of the few places in the world where people can get in the water with humpbacks and swim with them. Swimming with them is a bit of an overstatement, since it’s impossible for humans to swim fast enough to keep pace with a whale. With just the slightest movement of their tail a humpback will suddenly be a body length away, which is lot since an adult can be 45 feet long. And with a second second push they’re out of sight. So what we really do is get in the water and snorkel above the resting whales and wait for them to surface for a closeup view. And as you can see in this photo of Taylor taking a picture of a calf, it’s really close.
It was a great week with lots of encounters. One mom and calf let us hang around in the water with them for about 3 and 1/2 hours. The only negative was the water was a bit murky for great pictures but with the whales being so big and so close we had no trouble seeing them.