Whale of a Tale

Call me Ishmael.  I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.  Actually, I took a motorboat, and just saw a small portion off the coast of Okinawa in the East China Sea.  But I did see whales.

Alright, so that isn't exactly what we saw.  That's a picture captured by photographer C. Kevin Fosse in 2003 in Auke Bay, Alaska.  We weren't lucky enough to see any whales breach quite as impressively.

Every year, humpback whales migrate from the chilly waters of the north to the warmer waters of the Kerama Islands, and island chain just off the coast of Naha, for breeding.  The season runs from early February until late March and whale watching tours are big business.  While there is no whale-sighting guarantee, we heard that the tours almost always see whales.    

We left the main port of Naha at around 9 a.m. and headed toward the Kerama's.  Seas were a mild that day, but the weather was slightly overcast and chilly.  As I was peering out to find whales, Fred and I spotted a flying fish that flew alongside our boat for a bit.  I had never seen one before and was quite fascinated with how long its flight was.

Finding the whales was more like finding the other whale-watching tour boats.  We saw a cluster of boats all hanging out in the same spot and headed right for them.  Right on cue as we arrived, a little whale began flapping his tail about.  When he disappeared, all the boats took off in hot pursuit of another nearby whale.  The tour continued like this - find whale, whale flops about, whale disappears, boats all move to next spot and find another (or maybe the same) whale.

While I was hoping to capture a dramatic shot of a whale breaching like Mr. Fosse did, all we got was some flapping tail and the occasional rolling around on the surface. 

It was still quite impressive to be so close to the huge mammals.  For more pictures of flapping tail and humped backs, click here.    

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