We are on the No Bananas, with a pod of 7 pilot whales (Globicephala – actually members of the dolphin family) about 100 metres off on the starboard bow. Three of our fastest swimmers are trying to approach them while the rest of us watch.
Suddenly we watchers are startled by a loud whoosh behind us. A juvenile humpback has surfaced on our port quarter, right next to No Bananas. It’s as if he’s saying “Pilot whales, schmilot whales. Pick me – I’m much more fun!” So we do - and he is!
For the next two hours, he regularly surfaces and rolls around near whoever’s in the water. He seems to enjoy the attention. Some of the photos tell the story best:
“OK, guys, fins on.” Four of us obediently pull on flippers, snorkels and face masks.
“OK, Vili.” The licensed whale guide, Vili, slips into the water and races towards the spot where the whale was last seen. He checks below, and raises his arm.
The engine note rises as Sione manoeuvres No Bananas towards a suitable drop-off point. “Get reaaaady ……. get reaaady…” he chants almost absentmindedly, and then “Go, go!”
We slide into the water. The water’s unusually murky at the surface and at first I can’t see anything. Then Vili points down, and I can just make out the white markings of the humpback mother whale. As she slowly rises, the darker shape of the calf also becomes visible: