Saturday, February 20, 2010

Want to see some humpback whales?

Ok well the best best best way to go and see some whales off Antigua and Barbuda is to do a private charter on Xtreme when the weather is calm anytime between the start of Feb and the end of April. We often see them when doing trips around the island and to Barbuda at this time of the year. Although it isn't a sure bet, you do stand a good chance of seeing them when it's calm. Why when its calm? Well when there are fewer "white horses" or white caps out on the ocean you can more easily see the difference between a whale's spout and a bit of white water. When it's very calm you will know when a whale makes a splash of some sort too.

Private charters on big boats are not an inexpensive option and just joining in one of our regular scheduled tours does give you the opportunity to see them too. This week The Xtreme Circumnav tour came upon a mother and calf playing just east of stingray city. The mother appeared to have some sort of rope wrapped around her, but there was nothing captain JD could do about it. The whales didn't seem to be having any problems, but JD still says it was upsetting to see the fishing gear on the whale.
If you are not interested in seeing whales from a boat but you still would love to spot them as they pass through the islands, then all you have to do is look out past any barrier reef or barrier islands and just gaze into the see. Of course it's better to be up high as your chances are better then. I often see them while up on top of Great Bird Island which is a stop on the Eco Tour which tells you that you don't have to be that high. Verandah Hotel's restaurants are good places to look out into the Atlantic and if you are staying there between now and may you should keep your eyes on the ocean as much as you can.

Another excellent place to see them from is from what we call the Lookout. Almost every single time I go up there on calms days at this time of the year I spot them. Yesterday Mykl and I went to a lovely wedding at Shirley Heights and before going there we stopped off for a few minutes to look for whales. From the top there overlooking Eric Clapton's house and sunken rock you have the best view of the Atlantic Ocean and spotting them can sometimes be easy. Yesterday I just looked east and within a few minutes I saw some whales spout as they reaches the surface. They must have been two miles from me and it isn't always easy to see the spouts from that distance. If they breach (jump) or do any fluke or tail slapping then its way easier, but yesterday the whales would just spout gently from time to time. Needless to say, they were not easy to spot. If we had spent more time there then i am sure we would have seen more, but it was off to the wedding and the lovely sunset.
Pack a few drinks and go up to lookout to have a look.
Today, I read an interesting article from greenpeace about Japan and the whaling they do. For some reason, our government still supports Japanese whaling after taking their fisheries grants. You can read more here. 
And for a very cool video taken by Roddy who did the photos above on the same trip over to Barbuda on Xtreme, please check this out.