Photography provides me with structure and purpose to being curious and in search of beauty. Last week it took me to the Silver Bank in the Caribbean Atlantic Ocean for a guided, permitted trip to swim with humpback whales.
The trip was special for the sights, and sounds and also my incredible good fortune to be invited to join in with a great group that already knew each other. We snorkeled several times above resting whales that allowed our presence. Every 10-20 minutes, they rose to the surface to breathe, and languidly slid back down to rest. Their ease and grace in the water made me think of the phrase “fluidic space” from Star Trek Voyager. The ocean is fluidic space, with an alternate, appropriate reality of motion, gravity, sight, sound adaptation.
The Silver Bank (20.541667, -69.7) is an underwater plateau between the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos. Water barely covers it, just 50-60 feet deep in some areas. It is the edge of this fluidic space, a doorway. The presence of this edge allows a few humans to to peep through the spyhole into the world of the humpbacks.
By far the most moving experience was floating in the water 50 feet above a singing humpback. It’s beautiful, haunting song repeated over and over. The vibratory power of the music rattled our thoraxes. The bass notes rumbled deeper than a passing freight train, and the following viola notes defy the notion that a single animal produced notes with such a range.
I recorded six minutes of whale audio, and our guide Gene Flipse of Conscious Breath Adventures recorded 15 minutes on the hydrophone. I recommend downloading this audio file, put it on a stereo with big speakers and turning the power all the way up. It will blow you away to hear not only “our” whale in the foreground, but other whales repeating the same song, miles away. It is an exquisite experience. At about the 7:00 mark, the whale starts making sea monster sounds below the bass level of any instrument I’ve ever heard. It will touch you on a very deep, primeval level. (And please let me know how your dog reacts.)
Download the whale song here. The .wav file is 168 mb. https://www.dropbox.com/s/2p16d9w2giy4qjt/Whale%20Song%20of%20the%20Silver%20Bank%20Atlantic%20Humpback-160306-001%20%C2%A9%20Gene%20Flipse.wav?dl=0
Underwater and topside whale photos are located in this site's whales gallery here: http://www.pacific-landscapes.com/whales1. Please let me know what you like, and if we can help you order a fine art print for your home or as a gift for the whale lover in your life.