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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wildlife Photography - Humpback Whales in Maui, Day 9

It rained last night, quite heavily in some places. The day started out rather ominous with thick, heavy clouds and strong trade winds. We were standing on the dock with the zodiac captain to decide whether we should go out in the 10 to 15 foot seas. There were at least a dozen Humpback breaches on the horizon in about two minutes. That convinced us to take the chance and head out to sea because in my experience, rough seas tend to promote more Humpback activities.

As soon as we left the protected breakwater, the zodiac was being tossed around like a rubber ducky in a big swimming pool. The splash was intensive and I was soaked from head to toe (even with a poncho on) in about one minute. It was rough going, especially when the water spray makes looking through the viewfinder almost impossible.

Eventually, we located a mother, calf and escort whale but the zodiac was rocked so hard it was practically impossible to get a good stand long enough to fire off some shots. Moved on to another trio of whales and suddenly, the mother decided to give the calf a lesson in breaching. She breached a few times near the zodiac but the angle is not the most ideal and the waves were really making it hard to take a decent photo.

Some of my readers may recall I got seasick one day in Baja, Mexico on a small boat in January when I went on that photo shoot. But I have never been sick before on a zodiac and I have been through some pretty rough waters in Mexico, Alaska and Canada. I came VERY close to getting sick on this particular trip, not because the seas were too rough but when the zodiac is idling waiting for the whales to resurface, the diesel fumes from the engines and that heavy rocking and rolling motion is very hard on the body's equilibrium and when I have to concentrate on a small viewfinder to get the shots, it creates a big strain on the eyes.

The weather has taken for the worse now. Raining on and off plus the winds have really picked up again. Glad I am back on land and have gotten quite a few good shots already on this photo shoot. My back and leg are hurting, I might have injured them slightly. Time to wind down the trip. Visit the Humpback page on my website to see many more photos of this magnificent animal in action.

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