Friday, April 13, 2012

Whale Tails

by Scott

This fish tale doesn't involve fish. As I was out doing my morning chore, fishing from my paddleboard, I saw a small whale slapping it's tail. It was pretty far off, but since I was trolling anyway, I headed towards it. It seemed to be staying in the same position. I could tell by the delay between seeing the tail slap and hearing the sound that I still had a ways to go. As I paddled, a much bigger whale started slapping it's enormous pectoral fin. Minutes later, I was seeing and hearing the slaps simultaneously. I was less than 100 feet away.

Scott sitting in front of the BABY tail
It turned out to be 4 whales -- 2 mothers and 2 calves. I paddled along side them for at least 10 minutes. The calves were occupied figuring out how their tails worked, but the mothers were clearly checking me out. The small mother rolled on her side a couple times to eyeball me. Then, the big mother went vertical. It was awesome. Her bus-sized body went straight up, did half a twist, and came down flat on her back. It was just like those insurance commercials.

Little mama, re-entering the water.  Time to get a zoom lens.
My heart was pounding. I wasn't close enough to get splashed, but close enough to have to deal with the whitewater. A minute later, she pulled a u-turn, putting herself between me and the beach, and did another full-body vertical breach. It was spectacular, but way too close for comfort. Even an unintentional fin slap from one of the calves could surely kill me. Now, I felt surrounded. I started paddling towards shore, watching as the big mother swam right below me, hoping she wouldn't breach again. She didn't. They all dove deep and disappeared. It was a great finale.

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