I think I’m in love with a whale

31 July, 2023

In the midst of the chaos of sardines, dolphins, birds and sharks there appeared a lonesome Humpback whale. She seemed not to be concerned with the frenzy which ensued around her but rather quite intrigued by the shoal of sardines which seeked refuse under her enormous shadow. She seemed to enjoy playing with their ever morphing shape, watching them and holding them close under her flukes and tail.  

I watched from the boat as she kept her position in the water. I knew this was a golden moment. I slipped my fins on, donned my mask and slid into the water with the camera. Steadily approaching I didn’t want to startle her but the water was not clear and I needed to get in close to get a decent shot. Out of the murk she emerged, slowly, gracefully and with nothing but interest of my presence. 

We danced for what felt like forever. I watched as the shoal of sardines moved from her head to her tail as it narrowly escaped attacks from eager dolphins and gannets. She watched them too and after twenty minutes she kicked away leaving the sardines in my company. I thought that was the last I would see of her but as I was grabbing a few final moments with the glittering shoal, she approached me head on, breaking through the shoal and turning at arms length away from my dome port. I froze on one breath and kept the camera as still as I could. As she rolled on her back she slung her tail under me slowly and gently, purposefully just missing my chest. She parted into the blue and out of sight, as if to thank me for my presence and wish me farewell. 

I could not believe my luck. I lifted my head from the water and as if she had not given me enough, she ended our meeting with a full body breach clear of the water, breaking into the flock of birds circling above. This was her final goodbye. A goodbye I will never forget.

Text: Nick Filmalter
Photo: Nick Filmalter, Kimmo Hagman
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