|2017-04-18 The worst season in 11 years and why whale watching in Bermuda is fraught with ifs|
|Written by Andrew Stevenson|
Three years ago we had high winds for the three weeks of the peak of the whale migration. Last year was the worst season I had in a decade with persistent high winds throughout the whale season. In the best years I have obtained as much as 200 individual fluke IDs. And I have to say that this season has been even more difficult with once again persistent high winds and waves. So far I have about 125 fluke IDs for the season. When there are high winds and waves it's difficult to spot the whales (although they are there) and of course for those liable to get seasick, it's a recipe for bringing up breakfast. Lots and lots of sightings from the South Shore. Bermuda can have the best whale-watching in the world IF the winds are down and the waves aren't significant. Sometimes the winds are calm but the previous days' high winds mean big ocean swells. No point looking for a whale on calm days when the whales, or the boat disappear into an ocean trough.
On Easter Sunday I went out with four of my most experienced crew and we found one whale. One. We did obtain it's fluke ID.
All that being said, by sheer persistence, we have had amazing opportunities this season despite the winds and waves and the difficulty of landing a large drone off a small bucking boat to obtain aerial footage of the humpbacks' social behavior, aspects of their lives I did not obtain last season. We have a group nine whales in a competitive group around a single female who repeated breached. We have a mother and a yearling with an escort and a challenger constantly pec slapping. We have a group of seven whales in a 'surface active' or 'rowdy' group where the males are battling it out over a female. We have two whales 'floating' on their backs and sides around our boat for an hour-and-a-half. We have five whales moving off in a convoy, breaching as they head up north as if trying to attract other whales to join the group.
Now begins the process of editing all the footage to make my sequel documentary to "Where the Whales Sing".