Up early today (9am) we drove back into Andennes to take the Whale Safari tour to see the whales. We were too late for tickets for the morning trip but managed to get tickets for the afternoon. Check in was a 1:45pm. The tour included an English speaking guide (from Belgium) who took you through the Museum and the history of the whales in this area. Andennes is fortunate in that the edge of the Continental Shelf with a sheer drop off of 1500m is only an hour or so by boat. This is where the male Sperm whales come to feed.
The briefing before the tour included an offer complimentary sea sickness tablets. Steven immediately became concerned about the sea conditions and the type of boat we would be on and took a ‘quell’ ( an effective travel sickness tablet that Steven has used since childhood). The informative tour lasted about an hour or so then it was a 15 min walk to the docks to board the boat for a 4pm departure. The wind and a glance out to sea confirmed that this boat ride could be a bit rough.
Rain was threatening as we left port and the arctic wind chill factor reduced the already cool temperatures yet this did not dampen our spirits. We reached the first location where the whales may be seen but with no luck.
After about an hour out to sea with the ship rocking and rolling Steven was feeling the effects of the swell and the waves and thank goodness for travel sickness tablets. A lot of people on the boat were already being sick! Trish on the other hand was excited and racing from side to side up and down ladders to catch the sight of the whales.
The crew stopped the boat and turned on the hydrophones to listen for the whales sounds without any luck so we moved on further out to sea for another hour.
The crew stopped the boat every now and again to listen and get a bearing to where the whales were feeding this can be over a kilometer deep. The boat moved closer above the whales, stopped and we waited for the whales to surface. Without any forward motion the boat was now rolling from side to side and many more people were sick, Steven was hanging in there.
Nothing could dampen Trish’s excitement! Trish had borrowed one of the arctic coveralls, now looked like one of the crew and was and was warm and comfortable. was still climbing up and down ladders and going from side to side.
We were rewarded with whale sightings close to the boat. Over the next hour or two we saw three Sperm whales surface for around 10 minutes each and then dive with tails in the air.
It was difficult to get a good photo of the whale diving with the boat rolling and only a few seconds for the right moment. Steven managed to photograph the tail of the last whale as it dived.
On the return trip we were also rewarded with seeing a large number of White Sided Arctic Dolphins ( researches on board estimated 500 or more dolphins) of which this was only the third time this season they have been spotted and never before in such a large group. Was great to watch them come right in close to the boat and ride the bow waves. We were at sea for over 6 hours. Steven took t quells and also the complementary tablet and survived without being sick. You have to feel sorry for those who were to sick to enjoy the experience, but for us this was a great day and one to be remembered.