As we cast off I remembered that I'd been rather spoilt on my first trip out and expected that this one would probably be rather less eventful. I really couldn't have been more wrong.
It was cloudy enough that for the first day in two weeks I didn't need sunglasses. By the time we got aboard Peter Pan, it was already starting to drizzle. I really didn't care; I've spent plenty of time getting very wet on boats and this gentle rain felt more like the refreshing fall of April showers coming – like the summer – a couple of months early.
Within about fifteen minutes of leaving port at Los Cristianos, the radio crackled into life and much excitement poured through the speakers: there was a big whale somewhere nearby.
We cut the engines and drifted silently for a few minutes, everyone aboard scanning the seas for a glimpse of this so-called 'big whale'. After a moment I heard a shout and spun round, my gaze following the path of a pointed finger to see the splash of a tail disappearing under the water.
There it was! It was still impossible to tell what it was but from the little I'd seen it was clear that it was exactly what we were looking for.
As we got closer I saw the cetacean up close; it was about the size of the boat we were on, sending a plume of mist skyward as it surfaced for air before ducking below the waves again, only to reappear even closer to the boat. This wasn't just any whale, it was the incredibly elusive Sei whale.
Enormous as it looked, it was incredibly graceful in the water, surfacing then dipping below the waves again almost as quickly as I could open the shutter and snap a picture. “What more could you ask for?” “A little sun?” joked the crew. I'd pretty much forgotten it was even raining, swept up in the excitement of the sighting.
These Sei whales dive extremely deep and seem hardly ever to surface. The chances of seeing one of these creatures so close to land were astronomically slim and as we headed back to port I felt truly blessed to have seen in the space of two short, incredibly full weeks what many had seen only twice in more than a decade.
By Oscar Hawes - Field Communications Officer
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