Trip Report by Amanda Cotton, BigAnimals Expeditions Leader
BigAnimals Expeditions started the 2015 Sperm Whale season in Dominica with a bang. Our first group of guests enjoyed near nonstop action. Working with the Whale Whisperer, Andrew Armour our group was able to spend time in the water and on the boat with one of the leading experts on these sperm whales that reside in the waters off Dominica.
Our time in the water proved to be one incredible encounter after another. Excellent weather, cooperative whales and beautiful conditions allowed our guests to spend several hours a day in the Caribbean Sea with up to nine sperm whales at a time.
We had socializing sperm whales; in which whales frolic, caress and play with each other often times right at the surface, almost daily.
These events can take place anywhere from a couple minutes to hours at a time. The photo opportunities during these encounters are limitless.
During our expeditions we did experience a day with slow action when several large males moved into the area. This distracted the mature females and drew their attention offshore, moving the family units with them including the normally playful and interactive juveniles and calves.
By the time we motored out the next morning we quickly realized the males had moved out of the area and we regained the interest of the family units.
Jon Charles on our first week had the uncanny ability of being in the right place at the right time and enjoyed some amazing encounters with the inquisitive and friendly subadults of Unit A. On several occasions, both he and his wife Sachie, found themselves floating in the water with limitless time to photograph and video these gentle giants.
The second week of encounters brought pilot whales and large male sperm whales into the mix, which allowed for some unique photography opportunities.
Bob Pecoraro and wife Debbie, along with friends Gerry and Nancy Soifer enjoyed a special morning of encounters with a large pod of pilot whales as they made their way through the area.
This is one of the treats of diving off Dominica, one never knows what the ocean will bring and these waters are frequented by humpback whales, pilot whales, pigmy orcas and more in addition to the sperm whales we travel here to dive with.
Our third week was no exception to our time out with the whales, with a new group and high expectations we were thrilled to encounter sperm whales again in socializing events and as one on one interactions. The infamous “group of seven” spent an entire day with us as we filmed and shot imagery for hours on end.
Jeff Lahl, one of the guests on this week seemed particularly in tune with the whales and captured some extreme close ups of the sperm whales. as the whales seemed to seek him out with each of his turns in the water. It is interactions like his that are beautiful to watch from both the water and the boat.
Topside photography of the whales, with the gorgeous backdrop of the Dominica mountainside are stunning and easily captured, as the whales typically stay somewhat close to shore, within a few miles. This also makes motoring time to the whale grounds easy and enjoyable.
Nothing could beat the smile of Amir Kaspi as he returned to the boat after each encounter, his ear to ear smile reflected the pure joy and fulfillment each of us had as we relished in the magical moments we had experienced underwater in the company of these gentle giants.