Narrative Trip Report
Mother and calf humpback, Isla Socorro
Earlier the same day, we found ourselves anchored in a sheltered bay with a solitary whale not far from the boat. I slipped into the water with several other snorkelers, quietly making my way in the whale’s general direction. No luck, and we were soon called back to the boat. A few minutes later, a whale surfaced 50 yards away and interrupted our dive briefing. Snorkels plunged into the water again, but I held back. This time a much larger whale came up and began diving with the little one. One lucky diver saw the shimmering white bands of two pairs of pectoral fins pass underneath him as the mother whale took her little one far away from us. I’d wanted to come home with at least one good fluke shot to compare with the catalog of Southeast Alaska whales in the hopes of a match. I was wholly unsuccessful, but I like to think that I’d seen some these whales before.
One afternoon, two whale researchers tied up alongside the boat for some relaxation and a few complimentary beers. I snuck over to take a look at what a real whale researchers' boat looked like. It mostly looked cramped, with totes of food and equipment (I seriously thought about stealing the potato chips) and a few rough wooden planks for seats. I didn’t envy them riding the inflatable through the every-present waves to watch the whales...(okay, maybe I envied them a little...). The researchers were working for the SPLASH project and said that about 600 humpbacks winter in the Revillagigedo Islands; many of them hang around Isla Clarion, the only island of the archipelago that we did not dive. Other researchers in their group were recording whale song, altering it, and playing it back to the whales to see/hear their reaction.