Well, it’s World Environment Day and what better time to start this next series of posts! I’ve been whale watching since 2007 but this is my 10th consecutive year. 😊 Today (and every day, lbr) I’m talking WHALES. Specifically, I’ll be counting down my top/favourite whale encounters. So without further ado…
#7: SUPERPODS and HEAT RUNS!
I’ve had two encounters with superpods (or competition pods) – the first consisted of 10 whales (2015), the second was 13 whales (2017)! 😱
Try and picture 10+ 30-40 TONNE (yes, TONNE!) animals charging through the water after a female, competing for mating rights. If you’re having trouble imagining that, don’t worry – it’s hard to visualise but go for ‘whale washing machine’ with a lot of huffing and grunting and you’ll be close. 😂
Usually when you see humpback whales they’re just cruising along reasonably sedately but the heat run is the exact opposite. When the heat run is on, not much distracts these guys – the term ‘bull at a gate’ springs to mind. And if their vocalisations/huffing is anything to go by, they can get quite feisty/aggressive. I know I wouldn’t want to be in their path! 😳
Encounter #1 (2015) – 10 whales
The first superpod encounter was special because it was TEN WHALES. That’s 🐋🐋🐋🐋🐋🐋🐋🐋🐋🐋
Now imagine each of those is the size of a bus! 😮
The most I’d ever seen in a pod up until that point was maybe five whales? Whale numbers weren’t what they are now, it was unusual to see more than 2-3 in a pod.
Anyway, it was CRAZY trying to keep track of how many whales there were because they all surfaced at different times, they were charging through the water (and at each other! 😬), and changing direction randomly. Chaos, but the thrilling kind that you can’t look away from!
Encounter #2 (2017) – 13 whales!
The second superpod encounter in 2017 was special because a) it was the most whales I’d ever seen in one place at once – 13!! and b) I had one of my oldest/best friends with me and it was her FIRST whale watch! I had to tell her at one point that what we were seeing was NOT the norm and she was seriously lucky she chose THAT day to come out!
When I said before that the whales don’t let much distract them when in the heat run, I wasn’t lying. The whales in this run were all over the place and one surfaced DIRECTLY to the front/right-hand side of the boat. When I say ‘surfaced’ it’s more like… ever seen the movie “The Hunt For Red October”? Or maybe you’ve seen footage of a submarine launching out of the water doing a fast/emergency surface? Yeah. THAT’S what this whale was like. All of 5m in front of the boat. 🙈
Why is this a fave?
Both encounters go on my top/favourites list because of the rarity – even now, when the whale population has recovered more, it’s unusual to see such a large grouping of animals. The superpods don’t last long – few hours at most, maybe, while the mating chase is on. So it’s a rare and special treat to get to see something like that played out right in front of us. If only I could have seen what was happening under the water!!
Also, I consider it a privilege seeing one up close in the wild so seeing ten plus? #BLESSED.
Have you ever seen a superpod or a heat run? Share in the comments! I’d love to hear about it!
P.S. This last photo? Those people on the jet skis are dickheads. For the safety of the whales – AND THEMSELVES – they should never have been so close. These beautiful animals deserve our respect. Don’t be a dick if you’re going out to see them. ✌️