This whale watching cruise took us from Sydney Harbour out into choppier waters. The weather turned against us and rain pelted down. Andrea from Wandrealust.com and myself still had a wonderful time, scrambling to the front of the boat and trying to pay no heed to the increasing dampness of our clothes.
But then we saw the whale, a young male humpback. Before seeing him though, we saw a distant black dot on the horizon. This was an Australian fur seal, waving its fin in order to regulate its temperature. The seal and the whale frolicked together (I am not joking, it was unbelievable) and then the seal left. But the whale remained close to us and over the next half hour or so, the whale watchers (myself included) clung to dripping railings as the ocean tossed and rolled beneath us, waiting with bated breath for the next appearance of the whale. We saw his black fins emerge momentarily and then slide back into the ocean. We saw him leap out of the water. He swam closer and closer to the boat, behind it, before it, and at one point, only one metre from the starboard side. I was unfortunately on the wrong side of the boat when he came the closest, but I managed to capture his ‘footprint’. Frequently, I cursed my slow reaction times as the whale’s black body slipped back into the ocean before I could even press the shutter button. I held my camera close and worried for it as the rain rolled off the lens and body. My beloved Nikon is a survivor. It survived the icy water and rain of Jökulsárlón in Iceland and it survived the pelting rain on Sydney Harbour.
By the end of the journey, many people had been horribly seasick and drenched, including poor Andrea who found out that she was, indeed, prone to seasickness. While I fortunately did not suffer the same, I did feel the discomfort of damp clothes for the remainder of the day. As I always say though, it was worth it. It was an experience. And I cannot believe that I got to see a whale.
Merimbula Marina, the cruise company that took us out that day, decently offered us all free return trips in light of the shocking weather and the seasickness which had marred the experiences of some of our fellow whale watchers. I’m hoping to go back if I can find the time between my current study and work. Expect more photos!