White Spirits

Yesterday had started well. On a perfect day of breathless air and flat calm water our count within the first two hours was 1 Humpback Whale, 4 Fin Whale, 20 something Minke Whale, a whole host of Harbour Porpoise and a Blue Whale. It was difficult to think the day could get better … but it did.

The skipper of our Zodiac obviously knew the St Lawrence well; he knew where to find every single conceivable cetacean within a hundred miles and was seemingly intent upon showing them to us. It was late into the timetable when he started to head out into open water and across the wide reach of the river. Despite 20 exhilarating minutes at full throttle passing more whales and grey seals at high speed the far bank was still distant. I wondered what it was that had made him bring us out this far. I didn’t wonder for long. There heading towards us were several ghostly apparitions. Initially looking like the white horses of breaking waves they soon became a pod of belugas. A childhood dream had been realised.

These snow white whales are a true Arctic species but a resident population inhabits the area around Tadoussac on the St Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada and we were watching around 20 of them.

As they came closer they slipped under the oily surface. I looked down and several were under the boat their white form taking on a broken ghostly outline. Their curiosity aroused the Belugas stopped with us for what seemed an eternity, surfacing within inches of our spellbound faces. Eventually all too soon they moved on. Fading away into the brightness of the distance I watched them until I couldn’t see them anymore. We ended our three hour excursion elated.

Of course it was difficult to think the day could get even better … but it did. More Anon.

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Aug 2012


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