Whales of the Silver Bank Expedition
During the winter months an uncontrollable desire to migrate South overcomes the North Atlantic Humpback Whale. Why they migrate and their exact migration route is unknown, but we do know they travel to numerous mating and calving areas in the Antilles. We may never know why these mammoth mammals migrate south on a yearly basis, but one thing is for certain, females go into estrus during this time frame and the males testosterone is overflowing, creating one of natures most exciting arenas of courtship. The waters of the Antilles are harmoniously alive with the songs of the humpback whale during the mating and calving season. You will be actively involved as we digitally record the songs and communication that you hear during this time frame. Our hydrophone will introduce you to vocalizing males in search for an agreeable female as your chest vibrates and ears tingle from the strength of their song.
Humpback whales are known to be extremely surface oriented during this time frame. Numerous breaching behaviors, lob tailing and fin slapping are some of the postures you will witness on a daily basis, but what really makes the surface activity so special this time of year are the rowdy groups. Male humpbacks position themselves next to females with the untiring desire to copulate. This is what their entire season boils down to, securing their position next to a female and protecting that position from any challenging whale or whales in the area. If a challenger moves into the area, the escort will display surface postures to warn off all competitors. If this is unsuccessful, a rowdy group or competitive group will form where they will utilize their pectoral fins and swat at each approaching whale, ram into each other or breach on top of each other with the sole purpose of positioning themselves next to the female. This can become a staggering spectacle when you witness six or more challengers vying for a position next to a desirable female with one energized escort separating them from their conquest. Combine their overzealous surface activity with singing and rowdy group behavior witnessed only during this time period and you have an ocean exploding with vibrancy in one of this hemispheres last frontiers.
One of the highlights of your adventure will be when you have the opportunity to slip into the water to experience a soft-in-water encounter with these magnificent mammals. Trying to express in words the feelings you will experience as a mother with a calf slipstreaming along her back, gliding by you, is an impossible task with no words doing justice to this sensation. Visualize a female with escort, acrobatically spiraling around you for hours, as she toys with your presence, playfully returning to your position while totally in control of her body movements. The sheer thought of a thirty to fifty foot mammal coming to you, on their terms, in their domain, allowing you to share their world, is dreamlike in nature, but dreams do come true everyday on a "Whales of the Silver Bank Expedition".
As you can see your days on the Silver Bank are filled with excitement and opportunity. Keep in mind, there are good times and there are slow times, but there are rarely bad times. During the evening you will relax aboard in the comfort of the M/V Turks and Caicos Explorer II as you enjoy educational slide shows, videos and audio recordings that will assist you in understanding the theories, behaviors and anatomy of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale.
Photos: Copyright Wild World Images/Tom Conlin
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