A 4.3m Shark and Two Humpback Whales! All In A Days Work

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Humpback Whales at The Scuba News

Image courtesy of Chris Fallows – apexpredators.com

It is a very busy time here for us as we are moving into peak season and running trips twice a day. The past three days have been particularly interesting for me with many highlights and unusual moments to share with you all.

We had a rare treat at this time of the year with a pelagic trip into the big blue waters off Cape Point. After a moody sunrise reflecting storms and golden sunshine on the swell we saw a brydes whale and two humpback whales in the distance when we headed out of False Bay. The blue sharks were elusive that day with only one visiting us on anchor but we were surrounded by pelagic birdlife and sunshine. We saw three species of albatross (shy, black brow and atlantic yellow nose), giant petrels, subantarctic skuas, white chin petrels and sooty shearwaters. I loved watching the giant petrels bobbing on the ocean and squabbling between themselves. It was a bird lovers’ paradise that day and kept us smiling as we headed to Seal Island for the afternoon. As we anchored the sun beat down on us and we had one of our regular visitors Deux Rossi at the boat. She certainly knows how to entertain us as per usual and kept us delighted and busy with her tactics to get the bait!The next day we tried out different places to anchor near the island and our curiosity was rewarded as the big sharks came out to play. A huge 4.3m mature male shark, a 4m and a 3.7m shark all rose from the depths that morning. I still can’t get over the sheer size of their dorsal fins as they sliced through the water. It is rare to see a mature male shark of that size and we were all staggered by the girth of him. The afternoon didn’t disappoint either, as yet again Deux Rossi worked the bait with her inimitable style. She is such a pleasure to watch and I am beginning to wonder if she will be a regular all season – I certainly hope so. On the way home we also saw a bait ball being worked by diving gannets, cormorants and a Brydes whale. Fascinating to observe and what an end to the day.

Humpback Whales at The Scuba News

Image courtesy of Chris Fallows – apexpredators.com

As for yesterday…it was a very different day at Seal Island with a film crew onboard in the afternoon and the opportunity to observe the technicalities and considerations when filming great white sharks. I was so excited when we looked to the horizon and saw a southern right whale feeding and then it just got even better. We saw not one but two humpback whales and decided to approach them more closely. Just as we neared them they breached together three times in perfect synchronicity! I couldn’t believe their beauty and grace as they arched through the air towards us and the spray fell away from their bodies. We followed the whales across the bay and observed the two whales performing tail slapping displays towards one another, breaching individually and rolling belly up. This all happened right next to us and they were like ballerinas of the ocean. The rainbow effect as they blew was beautiful and they waved their pectoral fins in the air whilst they twisted and turned during their breaches. One had a black tail and the other a white tail and they were so close we could see their markings and scratches on their skin. The one with the white tail kept making these low tone sighs as it turned belly up to the other whale. It is fair to say I couldn’t stop screaming in excitement as they breached and yes I had to regain my composure and remember I was working! All of this was followed by a spectacular bright red sunset over Simons Town on the way home.

And to finish the day off I was chased up the jetty steps by a huge harbour seal that is known to be a touchy about people on the steps at times. I have never moved so quickly as I didn’t see he was there (it was dark by the time we got back) and just heard the crew shout ‘run Kat!’. All in a day’s work….



About Author

Kathryn has lived in the UK, Egypt, South Africa and New Zealand and is a trained scuba diving instructor and Great White shark safari guide. She is the author of No Damage (December 2014), the Managing Editor of The Scuba News New Zealand, a freelance writer, public speaker and co-founder of the marine conservation cause Friends for Sharks (August 2014). In 2015 she organised and completed a 10-month global speaking tour in aid of shark conservation: 87 events, 8 countries, 7000 people. Learn more about Kathryn’s book, No Damage at: http://www.kathrynhodgsonauthor.com/books/no-damage/

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