Whale Spotting

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 25 Feb 2019 20:19

Noon Position: 36 32.9 S  136 35.8 E
Course: East  Speed: 4.5nots
Wind: light and variable
Sea: slight  Swell: SE  1 m
Weather: sunny, warm
Day’s run:  77 nm

We arrived in what we hoped would be a whale rich area early this morning, in particular for our species of interest, the pygmy blue whale.  Winds were light and seas smooth which, for whale spotting, suited our purposes.  I kept the first watch while Kate caught up on sleep. After three hours of keeping a good all-round lookout with not even a hint of a blow I was coming to the conclusion that there were no large whales in the vicinity.  Kate returned on deck a little before nine so I took the opportunity to climb the mast to the spreaders for a better look around.  Kate and I passed the time singing snatches of song to one another and while no whales seemed to be attracted by our songs, we at least enjoyed the pleasant weather and each other’s company. After sitting in the spreaders for about forty minutes I returned on deck with the intention of motoring along our selected route to try our luck elsewhere.

At that point we spotted several small blows approaching from off Sylph’s starboard beam. From the size of the blows we assumed they were dolphins but, as the cetaceans got a little closer, we could see from their porpoising that they were indeed a species of small whale which, from our whale identification guide, we determined to be long-finned pilot whales. We took the opportunity to practice filling out all the record forms that Dr. Fiona had left us with.

Unfortunately, apart from sighting a couple of pods of dolphins during the remainder of the day, we were to see no more whales.  Now, with fresh south-easterly forecast for tomorrow, our weather window for spotting whales has closed and we are making our way back to Kangaroo Island via Backstairs Passage.  We will wait out a few days, perhaps off Kingscote, and hope for another opportunity to look for some whales as we continue on our way towards Robe and beyond.

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