Me and the whales of Samaná
Every year between the end of January and the end of March, the bay of Samaná provides a home for about 2000 whales. To come here, they sometimes cover very long distances – just like me. The flight from Frankfurt to Samaná takes around 10.5 hours. As part of the ” Whale Whisperer” campaign, I have been given the opportunity to spend three weeks on the water with these creatures after my round trip. This blog post is about everything that I have already learned and experienced.
What are the whales doing in Samaná?
Once a year the whales of the North Atlantic swim into the waters of the Dominican Republic to mate. The bay of Samaná is the third most important mating area in the region, right after the “Silver Banks” in the north of the country. The bay provides adequate shelter for reproduction and calf rearing. Since the gestation period for whales is about one year, the whale babies that are conceived here are also born here one year later. The little ones must now gather enough strength and grow quickly. Whales do not eat during the entire time they spend in the Dominican Republic. The mother whale still produces enough milk to make her baby weigh a solid 50 kilograms every day. They also need this strength for the way back. And it can be quite a long journey. Some whales come to Samaná from Greenland, Iceland, Northeast Canada and Norway, which corresponds to a distance of 7000 (!) kilometers. It takes a full-grown whale a little over 50 days to cover this distance.
My most impressive moments so far
My favorite moments have been when the whales are very active and swim very close the boat. In particular, small calves that are only about one or two months old are often curious and very playful. They are taught by their mother and the two remain in constant contact with each other. This is why mothers with their babies are always something very special.
It also gets very intense when several males fight over a female. This may sometimes involve two, but sometimes also seven to eight males. The males fight with each other, slap their fins, jump on each other and try to pull the next rival out of the race. Whale males therefore often have a lot of scars. When they fight with each other and chase a female, the boat has problems keeping up. It’s an impressive experience.
Now I only have 1 week left with the whales – it’s crazy how fast time has passed. I am grateful for everything that I have been able to experience so far, and I am looking forward to what is yet to come.