Under the sea roams a four ton (3630 kgs) humpback baby whale full of playful fun…this rambunctious humpback whale calf considered our little group of snorkelers as his own personal “rubber duckies” in the shallow waters of the Dominican Republic’s Silver Bank. He played with us for hours, swimming close enough to touch us (literally!) while his mother napped below us, her reverie broken every 25" when she surfaced for a breath.
This protected marine area is known as the Sanctuary For The Marine Mammals Of The Dominican Republic, including the waters of the Dominican Republic’s Silver Bank, Navidad Bank and Semana Bay.
Located approximately 80 miles (approximately 123 kms) to the north of the Caribbean island nation of the Dominican Republic, the Silver Bank plays host to several thousand North Atlantic migrating humpback whales every year during the northern hemisphere’s winter months. Mother whales swim here from the cold nutrient-rich waters of the North Atlantic Ocean to bear their young as well as mate with hopeful males. Waters of the Silver Bank are relatively warm and shallow, about 60 feet deep (18 meters) on average, ideal for birthing humpback young. Additionally, the Silver Bank is a virtual underwater desert, devoid of rich schools of fish that would otherwise attract predators. This is a perfect environment in which to bring a baby whale into the world.
Surface activity among competitive males hoping for a chance to mate ranges from breaching to pectoral slaps to tail lobs and slaps, all of it quite exciting. Yet the experience of being able to slip into the water with relaxed mothers, their calves and sometimes male escorts takes whale watching to new heights, inspiring emotions ranging from awe to sheer unadulterated joy.
The humpback whale is classified as an endangered species. Threats to its survival include commercial whaling and boat strikes as well as entanglement in fishing gear, most commonly nets and fishing lines.
Photographed with a Fuji Finepix F30 with a waterproof housing, manual setting, -2/3, f/4.0, shutter 1/400.
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