Woe is to the naturalist who has repeatedly watched whales approach other vessels to inspect them and never had the pleasure of this “mugging” experience. Every time I witnessed this behaviour it was always a whale approaching every boat but the one I was on. We would sit back at the appropriate distance (100m) engines off and wait and hope. Patience though pays off. Jealousy certainly reared its ugly head many a time. Always a watcher never a watchee.
Wait and hope I did for 8 years.
One flat calm sunny day a humpback named KETA2016#2 “Nike” was all about going from vessel to vessel to spy hop, roll around and general inspect who was sharing his home today. I could see him spy hop repeatedly by our sister vessel and I was hoping so much that he would come over to see us. We weren’t waiting long when he dove and disappeared and I thought well he’s bored and off he goes. He surfaced right up beside the boat and I could see his entire length carbuncles to tail skim right by us. He swam all around us rolling over to peer up at the whale watchers. He seemed just as taken with the people and vessels that we were with him.
I love humpbacks and have always been amazed by the grace by which something that large moves. To see this gentle, giant, agile animal place trust in the people and vessels especially after decades off gory hunting is truly humbling.
Remember folks. It is not up to you if the whale watches you. It is up to the whale.
Note on the photo below with the spyhop. The whale is where no one is looking! Almost says here I am dudes! Over here!