The Dwarf Minke Whale

Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, July 14, 2008

The highlight of our live aboard: we dove with the Dwarf Minke Whale!!! This 'new' species is found here 12 years ago and since 10 years an organization protects them:

Little is known of them yet; they are here 2 months a year, nobody knows where they come from or where they go to. They are called dwarf because in the whale family they are small: maximum 8 meters. They look like a small whale or like a huge dolphin. They like swimming around snorkels. It is the law that you can only snorkel on a robe, when they are around. And they know that. So, they are not scared of the snorkelers. Diving is different. They normally do not hang around divers. But, they do today. Around us. Back on board, we have to tell all about our experience to Varina: a German underwater biologist, writing her thesis about the whales. She copies our movies and pictures.

What happened? At the end of our dive, going back to the boat, Dr T sees a minke whale. And another one. And more. We are surrounded by 5 of them. Four adults and one smaller. They circle around us. Closer and closer. I have the camera (which is not a good thing) and it is almost out of batteries. I fiddle with the settings when one of those giants swims right to me. I hear Varina's voice: never attacked a human but also not a lot is known about them. I am scared. And I decide to do what I would do with a big dog: do not move. It approaches me till 2 meter and then swims up, showing me his belly and almost flapping me with his tail. Showing belly = playful = good. We have a ball! One by one they come over to check us out. One is hovering in front of me: his eye (the size of my head!) is checking me out: head to toe and back. Ten minutes later, Hubby swims up to check where the boat is, we got all distracted by the whales. A whale is following him, imitating him. When Dr T puts his head above the water, so does the whale and swims back down with him.

We feel very privileged. Bye, bye, minke whale!
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