A Whale of a Tail

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South America » Ecuador » West » Puerto López
July 3rd 2009
Published: July 28th 2009
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1: Very wobbly whales! 19 secs

Up bright and early for a whale-watching trip today although of course it was late leaving - this is Ecuador after all! Apparently they were refusing to take the boats out until the morning fishing boats had come back safely. Silly superstition and we ended up waiting until the fishing boats had unloaded before going. That said, it was very interesting to watch the fishing boats coming in. They had everything from giant crabs to rays so big they had to cut them up before loading them onto trucks.

Eventually got going and had an hour long flat out ride to get to where the whales were. I´d learnt from experience in Galapagops and come prepared with sea-sickness bands for which I was very grateful.

Absolutely scorching weather which unfortunately means the whales wouldn´t be jumping - apparently they´re too lazy to do it in the heat! Can´t blame them as it was absolutely boiling and it was quite refreshing to be blasted with salt water everytime we hit a wave though I can´t say it agreed with my camera too much.

Saw humpback whales almost straight away as we had managed to drive up to a pod of four whales. Almost impossible to hold the damn camera still for photos but to be honest I forgot about the camera half the time and just stayed watching them. We stayed about twenty minutes with that family but by this time three other boats had joined us and one was getting too close to the whales for the captain´s liking so we set off in search of more.

Found a couple of solo whales and then stumbled upon another family who were only too happy to stick around for photos. Got a bit carried away with continuous shot on my camera but the damn things wouldn´t stay still for long enough and were still refusing to jump. Got to climb up onto the front of the boat which allowed for a better view if not a more comfortable ride!

Got quite a few tails and one who decided to poke his nose up to see what was going on. Also found a mother and baby - either very early or very late in the year as July and August they migrate to Ecuador to breed so can only assume it was last year´s baby.

The humpbacks undertake a five week swim from their summer feeding grounds in Antarctica to their breeding grounds off the Pacific coast of South America. The sea off Puerto Lopez is considered the epicentre of the humpback breeding grounds with an annual population of around four hundred whales though the threat from whaling, mostly from Japan, is still a threat to these whales unbelievably.

Stayed with this pod of humpbacks for a lot longer as we were the only boat there. There are now very strict rules in place as to how many boats can approach the same whale and that all boats have to stay at least 100 metres away and off to one side so the whale always has an escape route.

Not too sure that the other boat was obeying these rules but apparently if there are any complaints they get their license revoked and their boat confiscated so it can´t really be worth them breaking the rules just to get a little closer. We managed to get soaked as the waves were really high but it was so hot it was definitely welcome.

On the way back we stopped off for snorkelling off the coast of Isla de la Plata. Had frigate birds and blue footed boobies circling around us and dive bombing the boats thinking we had food. Unbelievably clear water although we did have to make a rather speedy exit after a few people got stung by jellyfish. They were only tiny but they certainly made their presence known as people came back onto the boat covered in red lines from the stings.

Arrived back on dry land safe and sound in time to let the next lot of boats go out (again, they were waiting for us to cpome back safely before they would leave!)

The trip had taken a lot longer than expected (not that I´m complaining about extra time with the whales) so grabbed food and one of the many beachside restaurants. Probably ended up eating one of the fish we´d seen brought in earlier - certainly can´t complain about how fresh the food is!

Gorgeous weather held out for the rest of the day allowing a whole afternoon of lounging on the beach with Pilsener and cocktails ready to watch the sunset.

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


28th July 2009

That was some 'tail'
OK so I am officially jealous. Who froze in Iceland and was very sick just to see those minky whales jump. At least there's hope for civilised whale watching out there.
3rd August 2009

Whales!!! You saw whales!!! Soooooo not fair!
4th May 2010

Great photos and clever captions. Ecuador is now on the top of my list of countries to visit.

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