The amazing meeting with the Minke Whale

30 March 2016

By: Lotte Grootveld (maths teacher)

It has been two week since we last saw land and it will take at least another week before we see land again. We are sailing somewhere east of Bermuda, with still 1500 nautical miles between us and our first port: Horta, the Azores. I just realized this does not sound too appealing; it might actually sound a bit scary. And to be honest, during the preparations I felt apprehensive about it. ‘What if I do not like it, what if it scares me to see nothing but water for over two weeks?’ But, I do like it and I feel confident and happy underway by sail at the Atlantic Ocean.

Sometimes it seems as if we are alone. We rarely see planes or other ships; it is actually quite a big thing to see something that indicates that we are not alone. And sometimes we see that we are not the only species wondering this seemingly endless dessert of blue. ‘Whales on portside!’ The intercom was loud and clear to everyone on the ship and we all rushed outside. A whale, about 100 meters away from us, jumped out of the water. Something I had never seen before: such a large creature moving so playfully. And it came closer. I decided to climb on the roof, looked into the clear blue water and saw the outline of this huge animal, swimming on its side: on portside, around the bow of the ship, back to starboard.

Crew and trainees were trying to get the best glance of it, standing at the forecastle and hanging over the railing (but not too far of course). The Minke Whale must have been as curious about us, as we were about him (or her, we don’t know) and stayed near the ship for over 15 minutes. The whale easily kept up with us, just moving its tail. After a while it turned around and swam away; it may have decided the ship was inspected well enough. Today it was a whale, yesterday it was swimming in a calm Atlantic Ocean with a depth over 6 km. Every day we get to enjoy the beautiful, ever changing scene of the ocean and for that, I feel very privileged.

Minke Whale on starboard Jan Joris Midavaine   

 Photo Credit: Jan Joris Midavaine

Minke Whale by Marybeth de Waaij

Minke Whale by Marybeth de Waaij