25.06.2014 | This is what our captain said on the whale watching tour I did today – and he was right. The whale watching boat had to leave from the beach as the Indian Ocean is not accessible from the St. Lucia estuary any more. Have you ever started a boat ride from the beach?
Even though the waves didn’t seem to be sooo big it was a tough ride with heavy bumps (“always hold on” the captain had recommended) topped by several salty showers of the breaking waves. Together with the life vest we had been given thick waterproof jackets but within seconds the water dropped from my hair and face and my trousers were soaking wet – almost everywhere.
We were about 5 kilometres away from the coast when the captain spotted the whales – first from afar, then also very near. They were very often swimming with us quite close to the boat – only between 20 and 50 metres away. Yes, we saw many humpbacks blowing, rolling and turning around and waving their flappers – at the end it even seemed as if they were waving us good-bye. Playful and curious beings they are.
I decided to fully concentrate on the whales directly instead of taking photos of them – mainly for two reasons: (1) It was pretty wet on the boat and I didn’t want to ruin my camera. (2) You can spot the whales only for a few moments then they dive and become invisible again, so it would be a short time to catch them for a good picture anyway.
The whale season begins in June when the male humpback whales (those we saw) come from Antarctica on their way to Madagascar where they mate. The female ones follow them later – to mate or to give birth to their calves in these areas of the Indian Ocean where the small ones have time to grow before they leave for Antarctica again.
On our way back, I was wondering whether our arrival on the beach would be as bumpy as our departure. It wasn’t – the captain just explained that the closer we get to the beach the faster he would go – we should just expect a sudden stop when the boat would hit the sand… And, surprisingly, when we reached the beach my clothes were almost dry again – the wind and the sun had done their work.