Humpback whales watching


Location: Moéhli

Conducted in 2009

Mission: Megaptera

Expedition Leader : Michel VELY

Day 1

Embarkation and departure from Mayotte in the early afternoon. We pass the north pass of Zamboro around 16:00 and head for Moéhli.
In the late afternoon we make our first observations on the bench of the iris. As usual navigation around Mayotte is not the most pleasing "swell 3/4 aft but the passing miles, the sea applies, the wind rises and the boat lands. Finally real sailing conditions

Day 2

In the early morning we are in sight of Moheli. Arriving on the plateau we observe the first mohawian whales. But in the first place, we have to get in touch with the authorities. We "do custom" with the gendarmerie commander and the police chief (small gifts are customary in the islands). Then we wait for immigration and the harbor master. This year, the prices have undergone a nice inflation and the visas have gone to 60 euros (that we stay 1 or 45 days) to which it will be necessary to add 50 euros more for the authorization of anchoring of the boat and 30 euros to pay the essence of the two officials arrived from Fomboni on a motorcycle. All in all these administrative hassles are not going too badly. The welcome is warm, nothing to do with the previous year ....
The formalities were quite fast and leave us time to walk south of the islets. The whales are at the rendezvous and seem even more numerous this year.

Day 3

In the morning, 5 Comorians board Antsiva to participate in the observation day. There is Tomba in the eyes of lynx, Macoué, Abdila 80 years the mayor of Moheli and Ounaïs 12 years with his friend Faedjou.
Around noon, Michel plugs his hydrophone and we have the chance to listen to singers. The sound is good. We will also have the opportunity to test the approaches with the new kayaks. The technique is very quiet and very effective and in addition it forces us to do some sport, recreational observation par excellence. In the evening, anchor in front of the waterfall, in the bay of Miremani.

Day 4

This morning is the end of Ramadan. All Mohéliens are at the party. So we start with reduced numbers. The weather is good, not a ride on the water the sea is a real lake.
Decision is made to go to the south wall. We voluntarily sulk the whales that come to us on the way. And, once on the fall, we go to the east but we do not meet any more. Back on the set we find our "mothers-calves". We try several approach techniques: launching and kayaking approach. The water is cloudy and you have to get really close to take pictures underwater. In kayaking, we can stand a few inches from whales without frightening them. We draw some images and many filmed sequences. At night, we find our anchorage Miremani.

Day 5

Departure from Merani. We are going west. Very quickly, we spot a whale with his calf. The sea is calm, it's an opportunity to go see it more closely. 4 megapers then go to the water and swim to meet them. Successful mission: a few meters from the swimmers, the whale is allowed to photograph and then turns around and around the group that can admire it at leisure.
Then we go to what Michel calls "the night club of whales". We have already been able to observe many active groups, that is to say two males who run a female, this one is sometimes accompanied by its offspring. We can follow them and observe them for a long time.
Near the boat, two mothers present us their calf. One is "surfing" on his back while the other catches his cub in front of his ridge and makes him take a complete tour of the boat.
The day goes on and the weather turns bad. At the same time, we are seeing more and more breaches. It's a festival. Wherever we look, we see these 40-ton behemoths rush into the air and fall heavily into huge foaming splashes.
We will spend the night at Ouénéfou anchorage

Day 6

This morning is a big day. The weather is good, a priest's time according to Michel. Just left we have the chance to meet the WHALE, the one that all hope to meet one day. We stop the boat, launch the kayaks and silently approach the paddle. Arrived on the whale, we slide smoothly in the water. The sun gives on the surface the visibility is excellent.
Diving 1: A priori our presence does not disturb, we can swim a few meters without worrying the whale. The calf is very young, can be born in the night, it still bears the marks of childbirth, it is very clear and still very poorly skilled, it seems to take its bearings, revolves around his mother, tries dives, then plays cat with his mother teasing his muzzle.
Diving 2: we will look for those who remained on board, could not attend this dive. Once again, the approach is done by kayak. As soon as the boat is launched, the whale comes to meet the swimmers. Then she dive and stays a moment at the bottom, accompanied by her calf that comes to stall under it. After a little while, the calf goes back up like a cork, followed closely by its mother. The latter will tour the divers again before moving away gently with his little one.
We have invited a couple of tourists aboard, whale watching like us, Taoumba their pilot whom we know well and the diving instructor join the team, we are now 11 on board.
Diving 3: Just before going to dinner, we find "our whale". Of course, we go to the water. Our whale is filmed without complaining, but deliberately places himself between his calf and the swimmers. She will bend her bow by stirring the water of her codal, just to tell us that we must leave her alone.

After lunch we try a launch on an active group, with kayaks and divers. Arriving on the eddy, a diver reports the presence of two whales and they are moving to the surface. Indeed we see the emergence of kayaks head of a first whale, followed by the second. The eddies surround us, the movements of the whales are of infinite grace. Magical…. I look forward to the "breach" of a whale dragging a kayak, raising it in the air, then letting it fall into the bubbling foam. Wow !!!! Tomorrow maybe… … …
We will end the day by identifying active groups. A whale will surprise us by coming to stick to the hull of Antsiva en route. Tonight we will sleep in Nioumachoua.

Day 7

This morning we find our favorite whale that offers us another wonderful show. The perfect opportunity for the team to store films and pictures. But the time has come to separate us. We leave Said and Martine in Nioumachoua where they have to set up a whale house. For the rest of the team it's time to sail for Mayotte