In Barbados, Tourists Aren’t the Only Ones Having a Whale of a Good Time

In Barbados, Tourists Aren’t the Only Ones Having a Whale of a Good Time

For the past few weeks, Barbadians have been staring out to sea. However, it’s not boats that have caught their attention, but the antics of one of Mother Nature’s biggest marine creatures frolicking in the island’s waters. The article below is from yesterday’s The Nation News here in Barbados, written by Heather-Lynn Evanson.

Humpback whales have been making spectacles of themselves and have left Barbadians oohing and ahhing on beaches, in boats and behind binoculars.

Whales in Barbados

Whales playing off the coast of Barbados. Photo by Heather-Lynn Evanson

Photographer Mark Harris was one of those who was fortunate not only to see them as they swam around, but to witness the amazing spectacle of them breaching at Drill Hall and, to top if off, get it on camera.

“It was a Wednesday, and I was looking to shoot some surfing,” Harris recalled. “And then I saw them jump just off the Savannah Hotel. And then they just stayed and played for about 15 minutes. They were huge and pretty close to shore.”

His reaction?

“Wow! And then it was focus and shoot! I felt happy to see them,” he added.

Since then, the photographer has been able to watch them as they played at Parlour and Cattlewash on the east coast and at Silver Sands, Christ Church.

His photographs have been greeted with amazement. Many commented at the sight of the 50-foot long creatures breaching so near to the island. Others have expressed disbelief at how close they were to shore.

As recently as last week Saturday, the marine creatures were spotted as they lazily swam past Drill Hall beach again. Word of their arrival spread as quickly as the latest gossip with people relaying positions to each other via cellphone.

And even though they barely broke the surface of the water, the sight of the creatures, which can weigh as much as 79 000 pounds, was enough to command the undivided attention of those on the beach.

In the last three weeks, there have also been reports that some boat owners have had close encounters with them, with one captain reporting that his boat was bumped.

Marine biologist André Miller, who is also a diver, has himself been getting up close and personal with the whales. He and other divers are among the fortunate few who have been able to sit among the whales, on the Barbados Blue boat, as they frolicked in the water.

“They have come right up to the boat. We love it,” he enthused.

He revealed the pod of three or four whales is made up of at least two females and a calf and the biggest is about 50 feet long.

Meanwhile, Professor of Conservation Ecology at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Julia Horrocks, said the sightings around the island have been relayed to the Eastern Caribbean Cetacean Network through UWI.

“The underside of the tail fluke varies from white to black,” she explained. “Each humpback whale’s tail fluke is different and can be used to identify individuals. Tail fluke photographs are matched to international tail fluke databases as a means of tracking movements.”

She said estimates suggested there were about 11 000 humpbacks in the western North Atlantic population. They spend most of the year in the rich feeding grounds from the Gulf of Maine to Iceland.

Many then migrate to spend the winter months – December to April – in the warmer waters of the Caribbean, not feeding but living off their blubber.

It is here that breeding and calving occur and escort males, competing to breed, can often be seen following females, while mothers are frequently seen with calves.

10 Responses to “In Barbados, Tourists Aren’t the Only Ones Having a Whale of a Good Time”

  1. Greg says:

    For years, we were led to believe that our waters were too shallow or too warm for whales (that’s also why we have no sharks). But I’m happy to see they’ve come by anyway!

  2. RumShopRyan says:

    That photo is amazing. A large humpback breaching that close to shore, simply beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing guys and keep those cameras pointed seaward.


  3. Denise friend to shepherds pie man! says:

    Wow, thats amazing!! we spent 9 days in Maui in 2010 watching whales breach like that and the water was freeezing. Hey another bonus in paradise. way to go,just stay away from Bequia they still have a whaling station.

  4. I didn’t know that about Bequia … how cool! Thanks for the tip. xx Jane

  5. Denise friend to shepherds pie man! says:

    Oh no not cool, they kill whales and eat them!! ha ha. way to go Jane.

  6. Yuri says:

    I loved your article ! and by the way I have just written a very good article about one of the best beautiful beaches in Barbados which is Bottom Bay, check it out !

  7. Jane says:

    What gorgeous photos of Bottom Bay! Those are stunners, Yuri. xxJane

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