Where Mountains Rise

by firmm Team

The spectacle began with the 2nd school of Pilot Whales that swam towards the boat. There had already been some highlights in the first group: a tiny newborn and an injured animal; but watching an adult Pilot breaching is a really rare occurrence.


Photo left: newborn calf breathing close to its mother. Photo right: an injured animal, which was, as seen by the obvious teeth marks, bitten by an other Pilot Whale (Photos: KH)

It takes a lot of stamina to lift the body of an adult Pilot Whale out of the water: Up to 8 metres in length and a weight of 3-4 tons has to be moved so it is understandable that such a sight is not seen every day. But today was such a day and one of these gentle giants wanted to show us what he is capable of. We turned the boat, to avoid cutting off their path, but the animals seemed to seek our boat out and emerged right beside it. The very fact that they approached the boat is not a rarity in itself and we are often fortunate to experience their presence close to our boat, but it was very impressive how the male Pilot Whale looked us in the eyes, through the clear water. He was so close that you could see the red blood vessels at the edge of the iris. The giant then started rolling and showed us the anchor shaped spot on the chest.


Photo above: Pilot Whale on the back, the long flippers are very clearly visible (Photo: KH)

He then proceeded to make a complete spectacle of himself. Fluking is basically the opposite of breaching. The body is not lifted out of the water with the help of the tail fin, but like a handstand whereby the head and the flippers stay under the surface and the tail is displayed. It is difficult to imagine how such a big animal is capable of performing such acrobatics, unlike their smaller cousins, the Bottlenose Dolphins, who are about half of the size of a Pilot Whale and breach with ease.


Photo above: Tonnes in motion - a bulky body smacks the surface of the water (Picture: KH)

To balance this massive body is a masterstroke and we were both ecstatic and relieved to see that this splendid specimen was able to exactly coordinate his movements. His majestic fluke towered over us, not a metre away from the boat and splashed a safe distance away.


Picture above: a precisely calculated distance to catch your breath without putting anyone in danger. (photo: KH)

He even repeated this gorgeous spectacle several times, giving us the chance to record it. Without this evidence it would be inconceivable that such a miraculous event had indeed occurred.


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