In 2014 I joined an expedition to Baffin Island in Arctic Canada to look for the Arctic whales, as well as other wildlife. During this incredible trip I had two great whale encounters. One day we were in a bay in the far north east of Baffin, looking for Narwhal.
We found some swimming up and down not far from shore, but we could only see them in the spotting scopes, and even then they were very far away. As narwhal are still hunted off Baffin Island, they are very scared of humans and boats. I remember feeling sad at noticing this. We have got so used, as whale watchers, to whales that are mostly, thank goodness, not hunted anymore and so have lost a lot of their fear. However, these whales and all the other wildlife we encountered on this trip, polar bear, bowhead whales and walrus were all terrified of us and very difficult to get even remotely close looks at.
We decided to take the zodiacs into shore and sit along the shoreline and hope that the Narwhals came back, and we could all quietly watch them from land.
We were told that if we went ashore we would not be allowed back to the ship for about three hours to make sure there was no disturbance and we had the best chance of seeing the narwhals. So, we did this, all found our spot along the beach, and quietly sat and waited. We were rewarded as the group came back and once again started swimming up and down the shoreline in front of us, around 400m away.
It was not easy at all to take photos of them, but it was magical just sitting there in silence, watching a large group just swim lazily in front of us. There were some young males with a small tusk, as well as some with very long tusks.
Sadly, we also saw many narwhal with scars, probably from bullets due to the hunting in this area.