I am sitting in a dinghy watching a Humpback Whale gracefully pirouette out of the water, then crash down with a dull thunderclap so powerful that it turns the water to mist. We are about 100 yards away, so we maneuver the boat in closer to get a better look. By the time we get there, it’s gone, but it resurfaces with a calf a few minutes later and fires a geyser about twenty feet in the air before once again submerging beneath the warm Pacific waters off of the Azuero peninsula in southern Panama.
For the next ten minutes, these two put on a show. They surface. They dive. They breach. They blow water. We see their flukes as they descend and wait to see the great head as it breaks the surface of the water, sometimes with violent force. And finally, as we leave the area, the leviathan rolls on to its side and, in what looks uncannily like a wave goodbye, the pectoral flipper points high into the air, then slowly pivots into the sea, and they are seen no more.
I am breathless. I have always wanted to see one of these giants up close, and finally I have! My previous encounters were at such great distance that they can hardly be counted at all. You can only get so close from a cruise ship or helicopter, after all. Now I have seen one (two actually), up close and personal, and it was magnificent. Forty tons and fifty feet of baleen whale. Wow!
Yes they are common in these waters, along with Pilot Whales and the occasional Killer Whale. But I still feel very lucky to have been able to get so close a look.
Fortunately, I had my trusty cell phone camera at the ready, sparing no expense with equipment for my readers. So you can enjoy the only 2 good shots I could manage. Yes, that’s the best I can do. If you want your money back, please send me some first.