For the last few days in a row, we have been visited by two or three large whales. They have large, coal-colored bodies and a small fin on the back well behind their blowhole. They appear, give a deep intake of air, almost industrial in sound, and expose at least thirty feet of their body and it’s obvious that there is far more beneath the surface. It’s overwhelming, gentle power.
It’s also elusive. Out of nowhere this leviathan appears and takes a deep breath, blows us away, and then gone. We stand with cameras half-pulled out of dry bags, mouths agape, or standing in concentration on the surrounding water that, even with polarized glasses at mid day, is impossible to see through more than thirty feet from our boat … and we wait. Those beasts take breaths for real. One breath and, as far as I can tell, that’s all they need to get far enough away from our boat that they are invisible (this would be about a mile or two).
I get a strange emotion. I’m absolutely floored and then with that camera hanging from my hand I think, “Whale jerks…. Why don’t you let us film you?!? We just want to show people how cool you are!”
Then, more cynically, “Gosh dang it we need pictures of Compelling Mega Fauna (CMF’s) because that’s what people care about. They just don’t get excited about plankton! Whale, you know how important the plankton is! We need your picture so we can get people to care about you so they will care about the ocean and your plankton!”
They don’t seem to listen. But I have my hopes….
Let it be known whales, I will give you a belly rub in exchange for pictures.
Even dead fish are hard to take pictures of. Our boat travels at 1.5-3.5 knots. When we go faster, that means wind. Wind means white caps. The other day, three of the same fish floated by in about an hour’s period. I have never seen a dead whole fish floating on the surface of the ocean. It was disturbing. Same drill. See it. Grab camera… all about 15 seconds and…. well what is that white speck in the picture? Dead fish or white caps? It’s frustrating. When we do manage to get pictures, it makes our day and we work as hard as we can to get it out to you. We also focus on taking higher quality HD video, so over the next months after we get back, stay posted and we will have some even better stuff that will come once we are on land and can process it all.
P.S.: Saw two 1.5 liter water bottles floating yesterday. I did manage to get some shots of these. It was calm but they are still visible. If it floats, and its not properly disposed of, it ends up out here. They just don’t give me the same feeling as seeing whales.