Recently, I attended a cetacean identification course with Orca (highly recommended!) and it featured stunning videos of dolphins and whales.
A lot of the footage was captured from tourist boats, out for whale watching. Of course, seeing and photographing these animals in their natural habitat is a fantastic experience that can be re-lived and shared with vividly illustrated stories.
On the Pelican of London, somewhere between Ireland and the Isle of Man, the entire crew, which includes 23 young sail trainees on board courtesy of Sail Training Ireland and their three mentors, saw a spectacle that was not captured on camera.
We were just finishing a cetacean survey for the Sea Watch Foundation that resulted in zero sightings, when first mate Allie called out ‘what was that?‘. I turned my binoculars towards where her arm was pointing and saw the most amazing sight:
An adult humpback whale breached, propelling the full length of its body vertically out of the water, then curving its body and splashing back into the calm waters. By that time, everybody on deck had heard the news and we watched as the whale breached again and again, more than a dozen times.
Sailing yachts and tall ships, I feel privileged to have seen whales at high and mid-latitudes, close to the shore and mid-ocean, but to see a humpback breach was a first for me and certainly something I had not expected in the Irish Sea, so close to home.
It will be one of those moments that will remain in my mind’s eye forever – sometimes the ‘hard drive’ in the head is the most precious one, accessible at all times.
Featured Image by Brigitte Werner, on Pixabay