A tip for tour operators: When there are evil people (such as myself) about, don’t make claims on your website such as “We guarantee you see whales or your next tour is free.” As soon as I read this the little devil on my shoulder began rubbing her hands together. I probably won’t see any whales. I am legally blind (insert maniacal laugh here).
As we sat on the boardwalk waiting to board we (or rather my brother Geoff) spotted a pair of dolphins frolicking in the harbour. Ordinarily I would have been quite excited about this but today I was slightly distracted. There was a delicious smell of bacon wafting through the air and it was making me hungry even though I had just had breakfast. “Pigs are friends not food” I reminded myself.
The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze and the ocean was calm. Perfect whale watching conditions. We boarded the Sea Eagle (although given we were in Fremantle perhaps calling it the Sea Docker would have been more fitting), en route to the “humpback highway” in the Indian Ocean off the Western Australian coast.
The journey from the warmer waters of the Kimberley (taken from September to November each year) is apparently the longest migration route in the Southern Hemisphere and we were headed to a very popular rest stop for the whales (who said Perth was dullsville?). Hopes were high for a definite sighting.
We had only been at the rest stop for mere minutes but already a whale had been spotted in the distance. The throng rushed to the viewing platform to get the best view. The whale leapt out of the water. The crowd gasped in amazement and a flurry of cameras went off around me. But I saw nothing. Then another whale was spotted and again the crowd ooh’d and aah’d and again, I saw nothing.
By this stage I was beginning to feel a bit despondent. There seemed to be this awesome experience that everyone else was having and to be honest, I felt a tad left out. Even my inner Pollyanna who reminded me how nice it was being on the water on such a lovely day couldn’t shake the feeling.
I suspect Geoff had picked up on this and decided to do something about it, as not long after this the captain (another Tom) invited us onto the bridge to watch from there. Not only was it much warmer in here but I also had a prime viewing position and exclusive commentary from the captain too.
I eagerly looked in the direction I was told and scoured the ocean for any sign of life. Whales are enormous; a baby whale weighs as much as a small car. Surely even I could see something that big!
Apparently I could. Suddenly my eyes clocked onto what I thought was a fin and I began to get excited. But my bubble was quickly burst when I was told that what I was actually seeing was the sail of a yacht…oops.
Then a miracle occurred, I saw the surface of the water break and a REAL shiny black fin came out. It was a mother and her calf and as if she knew I had been waiting she rolled over in the water, splashed with her tail and even did a leap. A few seconds later a slightly smaller tail popped out too. Finally I had done it. I saw not one but two whales, there goes my free tour.
Not sure if I would go whale watching again. It seems like something that should fall into the “once in a lifetime” category. Besides I am pretty sure the thrill I got from finally seeing them could possibly never be recreated.
It is another thing to tick off my bucket list and in the end I did have a whale of a time!