Today, January 29, 2015, will have a very special place in my dive log. This is my 8th trip to the Revillagigedos Islands aboard the Nautilus Explorer. Today, we dived Roca Partida for our first dive this morning. As I back-rolled off the skiff, I managed to pull the cover off my wide angle port and turn my camera on to turn and encounter a mother humpback whale with a calf and an escort male perhaps 30 feet below me. Within a few seconds, I was privileged to witness the serenity of a a mother humpback nursing her calf. After a couple of minutes the calf slowly made its way from its mama and ascended to the surface for a breath of fresh air. It then glided back down and nuzzled itself under mama’s head. Breathtaking!
After the whales moved on, we made our way around the south end of Roca Partida to encounter some dolphins, 2 of which were engaged in some quick-time, porpoise hanky-panky. Oh Yeah!
As we cruised around the rock, the dolphins approached again and seemed to be suggesting that we look up to again see the mother humpback with calf and escort. So here we stayed for over 10 minutes filling our SD cards with unforgettable photos and video of our privilege of experiencing a humpback whale encounter on SCUBA –mama, calf and escort. BEAUTIFUL! Here we witnessed the beauty, tenderness and serenity of nature.
Upon ascending to the surface and boarding the skiff to the Nautilus Explorer, we witnessed the reality and brutality of nature. 2 Orcas attacked the humpback calf apparently tearing off a pectoral fin that quickly became breakfast for the sharks that inhabit this incredible dive site. The Orcas then separated the calf from the mother and muscled it several hundred meters away to devour it. The mama humpback and escort then engaged in the interesting behavior of rapidly swimming around and about Roca Partida as if looking for the calf. Truly nature at its extremes.
I dived Roca Partida in late January, 2013 and may have encountered this same mother humpback and calf back then. At that time, the calf was about the same size as a dolphin and had brilliantly white pectoral fins. It was quite young. On today’s encounter, the calf was much larger and without the snow white fins.
It is indeed a bit arresting to realize that I may have witnessed this whale calf’s first few days in the ocean and also its very last day of life.
Dublin, CA USA
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This post was written by Mike Millet