Monday, 22 October 2012

Wild creatures in the city

During the pre paddle briefing Rob asked if someone had any preferences to do and someone said “See some whales”. Everyone agreed between laughs. Very diplomatically Rob delegated that task to his second in command, Shaan, who said “Everything has been arranged.” All laughed again... If only we knew what a good job Shaan had done.

There was some strong wind from the north, probably around 20 knots. Crossing to North Head against it was not easy and it was a workout. It was good, because that was the only exercise we were going to do. After regrouping, resting and decided we were going to regroup again, some 2 km North, we paddled out of the heads and against the wind again. Not 10 minutes had passed and all the instructions about regrouping were out the window and instead of going North, everyone turned to look South. We gave Rob a hard time managing the group but he couldn’t compete against a whale and his calf blowing water and splashing around. We drifted a bit south with the wind but apparently the whales were very curious about these strange creatures floating on the surface and they got even closer... “Too close for comfort” some said later.
They were too curious and got close to check us out.

Suddenly some of the guys started screaming even more. Nothing to worry about, they had just spotted a pod of big dolphins swimming nearby. Soon they were also checking us out as they came and swam underneath the kayaks, while a few hundred meters away the mother and the baby kept splashing.
Coming from the right, Dolphins have priority
After a while that felt too soon, whales and dolphins disappeared under the blue and all that remained were the wind, the waves and the comments like “Did you see how the whale...” “They came close!!!” “Those dolphins...” and others.

We started to paddle back into the heads and the screams of excitement started again. More whales coming from the bottom of the ocean surfaced between us and South Head. Wait a minute, weren’t they the same ones? The whole episode repeated along with the excitement. This time I put my goggles on and tried to spy them within their element but the water was not so clear... or they were not that close.
Second act
Too soon again we started to drift too far south and this time Rob managed the group and we started to come back. At the pull off site we practiced some rolls and played a bit. Then I had to cross the harbour again to get to my car. If time and weather allows me, I paddle across the harbour instead of driving around it to meet with the others. A few weeks ago I was too bold and a big lighting storm prevent me from paddling back, but that is a different story.

While paddling back I looked west inside the harbour and saw some white water in the distance. First I though some waves breaking but then I though “no waves get there with this weather”. Then I said aloud “More whales!! Can’t be!!” but it was. I paddled into the harbour and stayed some distance away but apparently calf whales are as curious as human babies and they came closer. They also appear to be as playful as human infants because they started to breach and splash around. They put a full show of tails, breaches and puffs. At one point I worried that the ferries would collide with them as they passed full steam really close to the whales.
After a while I had to go. This time it didn’t feel too soon. I wasn’t tired of the show but I was satisfied. I had 3 videos of 20 minutes from the time I was by myself, so I had been watching the show for over 1 hour. As I paddled away they kept playing and followed me a bit.  Will they be there next time?
Thank you Shaan, will you share your contacts to summon these amazing creatures?
Sydney CBD and its wild life

Two icons or three if you pay attention to the bottom left.

Come fellows, I start paddling back will you come?
After that day I read on the web  that sometimes ferries or sailboats collide with whales hurting them. I don't think that if a kayak collided with a whale she would be the hurt one... The problem is that we kayaks have very limited vision when up and down on the swell, specially for objects underwater. More than once I hit a log floating just under the surface because I didn't see it until I was on top of it. Regardless of the excitement, being in a kayak may be dangerous when a big mammal decides to surface and the kayaker discovers that instead of water the paddle just catch air. Sadly we don't have the propulsion or the sight to avoid a whale... not to mention a shark or a pod of dolphins. If we are lucky, as I was this day, and the whales are in the mood they will show to us otherwise we have no chance to know where they are nor the speed to get close to them before they dive again.


  1. Its great that the environment so close to the countries largest city is clean enough for these wonderful creatures to visit.

    Those shots of the whale jumping with the city in the background are something special.
    Where else in the world will you see whales against a backdrop of skyscrapers?

  2. A few gems in there Fer, well done.

  3. Qué grande el kayak y el tripulante!
    qué linda es esta ciudad