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      October 2010 > Discovering Whales

Discovering Whales

Dolphins in the AzoresThere surely cannot be a better sight in the animal kingdom than that of a whale breaching. It’s amazing enough to see it on the TV, but just imagine being out on the ocean in a small boat and witnessing this remarkable feat of grace and strength before your very eyes.

Travel to the Azores and you’ll not only discover the green islands of São Miguel, São Jorge and Faial, but you will also take part in a whale-watching excursion with the chance to see Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales and Dolphins in the company of experts. Using small zodiacs, it's possible to get right out among them (left) for a most thrilling experience.

Saguenay Fjord, QuebecFrom the small fishing port of Tadoussac on the confluence of the Saguenay Fjord and mighty St Lawrence Seaway in the Charlevoix region of Authentic Québec, you can take a cruise, or small zodiac, out into the krill-rich waters of the nearby expansive Marine Park (right). This is one of the best places in the world to see whales, which include the ever-smiling white Beluga, Minke Whales, Humpback Whales, White-beaked Dolphins and the giant of the sea itself, the Blue Whale. August is the best time to see Blue Whales and 30 individuals were recorded off the Saguenay Fjord this year.

Jawbone of whale, Lofoten IslandsThe Lofoten Islands in northern Norway are famous for their cod-fishing grounds which have attracted large numbers of seasonal fishermen - and other predators - for centuries, including pods of Orca ('Killer Whales') which arrive in great numbers to reap this rich harvest of the seas. Take a trip aboard the Hurtigruten steamer Beyond the Arctic Circle and you, too, may witness these sleek and beautiful creatures cruising along the dramatic coast of the islands. (I didn't see any Orca when I was there a couple of years ago, but I did come across this whale jawbone - left - on the deserted - and very beautiful - beach at Kvalvika.)

I have never seen a live whale up close, but last year, while my wife and I were on holiday on La Palma in the Canary Islands, we walked across black sands from the Teneguía volcano to the Faro de Fuencaliente  on the island’s southernmost point (see below). As we enjoyed a welcome, cold drink, my wife suddenly shouted and pointed excitedly out sea. Way out in the distance, we saw the instantly recognizable spout of a whale as it came up for air and watched its slow progress as it rounded the point and eventually disappeared from sight. It was hardly visible and almost impossible to see on my photographs - and yet it was thrilling all the same to know that we had seen a whale, a real whale, out there in the great, wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.  

Faro de Fuencaliente, La Palma

Dolphins in the Azores photo courtesy of Mr David Wilson of York.

Posted: 07/10/2010 09:27:12 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: Canada, islands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, wildlife

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