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Whale Watching Panama

ask for Anne

sunny 85 °F

This was an incredible trip. Kryss and I have been whale watching in Newfoundland, Alaska, Hawaii, and in Costa Rica. Nothing in the way of quantity and activity has been like this experience. We saw more whales yesterday than we'd seen on all our previous trips combined. After the first ten, before 10:30 in the morning, we stopped counting.
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We left Panama City with three other whale watchers, a naturalist/guide (Anne), her husband/assistant (Otniel), and the boat captain (William). The forecast promised rain and there were a few clouds in the sky. The water was a little choppy but our able captain guided us on a relatively smooth course toward the Pearl Islands. The Pearl Islands are about 1.5 hours via boat, 40 miles, from Panama City. As we left Panama City on the horizon the skies became blue. Our guide spotted the first whale before we had reached the Pearl Islands. The excitement really started at that point. Everyone scanning the waters with camera in hand for a blow spout, a tail, or the gentle roll of the surfacing Southern Hemisphere Humpback whale.
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We learned from our guide that the whales in these waters come for two reasons; raising their new borns and reproduction. They don't eat while they are in this raising and breeding stage, losing almost a third of their body weight. The warm waters are very conducive for birthing and teaching the new borns. Over and over we saw mothers with their new born coming in and out of the water. The blow spouts were the tell tail warning that a whale was going to surface, but for how long and to what extent was always the question. Many times they would dip back into the water without making a display of their fluke (tail). One very unusual event happened early on, a whale laid his/her tail flat on the surface of the water and then hung down into the depths. For at least 15 minutes we observed this behavior. The professional crew kept the boat a safe distance way as we watched this cool event. Below is a picture of the "hanging fluke" and a type fluke shot.
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We cruised the Pearl Islands for about three hours capturing hundreds of various whale images. In the distant we saw four separate whales breach, coming staight out of the water and crashing down with a huge splash. Unfortunately, they were too far away for a photograph. The whales must have known it was lunch time since we didn't see any around the noon hour, so we headed into Isle Contadora for lunch. Transfering from our boat to the island water taxi I slipped and almost hit the water. Kryss grabbed me and I held onto the cameras. No problems. A refreshing lunch, with two bottles of water and a beer...ready to go again. On the island I spotted these flowers, don't know what they're called but I like the color. We also had time for a family shot!
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Reboarding our boat was uneventful and we headed back to the ocean for a quick snorkle/swim. Then back to the business of whale watching in Panama. As we were searching the horizon for whales, one came right under our boat and rolled onto his/her side to give us a look. The white underbelly and blue rippled waters gave a very surreal look to the photograph. Can you spot the eye? As we were leaving the Pearl's and heading back to Panama City another whale came right along side our boat and as if waving good bye stuck out his/her dorsal fin. Again, another beautiful turquoise color in the water.
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The ride back to Panama City looked like it might be a wet one. The skies started turning gray, fog and mist could be seen in the distance and the captain suggested that I might want to cover up my cameras. I heeded his advise and as soon as I did another whale popped up. I decided to risk a little rain; put on my rain shell to cover my camera if the rain started, and got out one camera. I'm glad I did, one last mammal to send us home. A small group of dolphins started playing in our wake, entertaining everyone with their jumps and fast moves.

This was one fantastic trip. If you come to Panama and want to go whale watching, just remember whale watching panama and ask for Anne. I know we will.

PS. It never rained...yeah!

Posted by rhislop 13:08 Archived in Panama Tagged islands panama dolphins dolphin whale watching anne pearl whale_watching_panama isla_contadora

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