North Sailing, Unplugged
In the past 24 hours North Sailing has carried out some of the most exciting trips ever, at a time when the whale watching boats have been seeing more species and in greater numbers than can be remembered. Two trips in particular stand out in which a specialist film crew and researchers used new techniques to approach the whales. North Sailing is currently working with researcher from The Whale Museum – Pere Morera, BBC wildlife cameraman – Tom Walmsley and the European Rolex Scholar – Phoebe Rudonimo-Dusiacka to find new angles to observe and photograph the big whales with a view to learning more about them.
At 11PM on 12th July a shout went out for blues at the mouth of the bay. The Husavik marine rescue team scrambled their boat and collected the film crew and researchers. Just 30 minutes later we were 14 miles offshore alongside North Sailing´s main whale watching boat exchanging information on the whales movements.
Using their experience and international guidelines for swimming with big whales the film crew worked deep into the night with around 8 blue whales and 6 humpback whales. We waited patiently during the periods of intense feeding and socialising so as not to bother the whales. When we found a whale in a rest period we gradually over took it, running parallel, and then switched the engines off. On two or three occasions the big whales then swam under the boat but were too deep in the dark water to photograph. On other occasions they surfaced again near the boat and the divers were within 5 to 10 meters of them. However the divers soon discovered that, although they looked slow and graceful, they were actually cruising too fast to swim alongside. The backdrop for this trip was Homer´s wine dark sea and a crimson sky line. Water droplets turned to gold.
The following morning a plane was scrambled for the same crew. By 11 AM they were airborne and talking on mobiles to the North Sailing whale watching boats. A number of blue whales were spotted under the surface. Finally one surfaced while we were circling and it was possible to appreciate the vast scale of the animal and photograph the natural markings on its back. We spotted a humpback whale that was tail slapping in the distance. Hoping it would not spot before we got there we raced over, staying high enough so as not to scare the whales and low enough to photograph the behavior. It carried on tail slapping for twenty minutes. Half way through it turned over, belly up, because it was fatigued and for more power. The enormous white splash from each tail slap covered about 20 square meters.
North Sailings activity has been possible because of the worldwide experience of the crews working with international guidelines for approaching whales. Working in such close proximity to such powerful creatures has risks for both the animals and the humans and cannot be recommended on your own. Please ask North Sailing if you are interested in joining their expeditions.
Pictures taken by Heimir
Pictures from the diving trip will appear shortly.
This humpback whale could be seen from a great distance from the plane as it kept slapping it´s tail against the water…
…also upside down.
The blow from the blue whales that reaches 9 meters in the air made it easy to spot from air and from the plane you could see the U-shape of the Blue whale´s gigantic head.
A medium sized humpback whale followed Knörrinn for a long time. The length of Knörrinn is 15 meters but humpbacks are about the same length when fully grown.
Náttfari was already on it´s way back to Husavik after a successful trip when the Myflug airplane took a low-pass over the cheering passengers.
Gardar pilot, Tom cameraman, Leifur captain, Elsa María North Sailing guide, Hulda North Sailing guide, Pere from the Whale museum & Phoebe Rolex Scholar.