Due to the nature of events and the subsequent regulation, I’m unable to share certain details such as the ‘guides’ or ‘company’ name and thus will refer to them as such.
So, it’s 8am and we’re on the boat heading out of Drake bay. The group is uncharacteristically very small, with just myself, an American/Costa Rican couple and the compulsory captain and guide. The guide goes on to give a short introduction on herself and the wildlife we might see on the 4 hour adventure.
The key bits of information I took away were — she has 20 years experience doing this job and we must always remain patient as you never know what nature has in store for you…
Thankfully patience wasn’t needed, as it took a mere twenty minutes to spot the first humpback whale, roughly one kilometre away. It’s somewhat tiny dorsal fin briefly penetrated the sea and then duly disappeared — a ‘typical’ humpback sighting according to our guide…
The captain then gently and respectfully powered the boat towards the location as we kept a keen look out for any further breaches.
Roughly ten minutes had passed before we felt the boat begin to violently sway. Grabbing onto the edges, a humongous humpback breached just a few meters behind us!
Its seemingly never ending back protruded the perpetual sea and to our great surprise, a tiny calf popped its head out behind the safety of its mother. Giving us a cheeky inquisitive look, it quickly followed her down into the deep blue…
Elated with pure joy, we all looked at each other in disbelief as we shared possibly the biggest smiles of our lives to date. Our guide also had goosebumps, which speaks volumes considering she’s been doing this job for 20 years!
This rare behaviour ensued for an astonishing 30 minutes!! As the majestic giants circled our tiny boat, breaching from all sides. The pinnacle moment came as I casually dangled my arm in the sea. Feeling the unusual but now familiar sway, I quickly retracted and grabbed onto the edge of the boat, as the baby calf breached right next to me with the most elegant and playful twirl.
The sharp contrast of it’s striped white underside was soon followed by mama, who kept an ever watchful eye on us. This time she was so close, we became soaked from the spray from her blowhole!
It was at this moment, the regulatory book completely ‘went out the boat’ as the guide and captain pretty much lost their sh*t! Abandoning controls, the captain pulled out his gopro, whilst the guide went one step further and dived straight in to the sea!
Totally baffled by the quick succession of events, I picked my jaw up off the floor and came to the realisation that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Without hesitation, I stripped down into my swimming trunks, grabbed a snorkelling mask and dived off the back of the boat.
From this moment on, it was quite literally all a blur. Rising to the surface I could just see mama’s dorsal fin about 15m away, so I swam as calmly but as powerfully as I could in that direction. After a few seconds I was able to make out this huge black and white wall moving in front of me. Freezing up out of shock and admiration of its sheer size, the shape abruptly changed as I felt the sea push me backwards…
At least I thought it was the sea — it turned out to be the movement of the mother’s tail which effortlessly propelled her into the infinite blue.
Staying for a few minutes longer, we rose to the surface to watch them swim into the distance and fittingly celebrated with an epic hi5.
Once we had made our way back onto the boat, I took a well needed seat, however immediately stood back up. Feeling a solid object under my leg, I turned around to nothing but a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.
As you might have guessed, the object was in my pocket and it was of course my phone! Utterly destroyed, I simply laughed, put in my bag, retook my seat and excitedly discussed what an unbelievable experience it was to share the sea with such a magnificent creature…