Whales… from a boat

Word of warning… A phrase that is going to come up in this post is: “a mass orgy of whales”.

In Journalism 101, we were taught the axiom that “Sex Sells”, so let’s just see how many of you read on to the end… (although I am slowly coming to realize that whale sex was PROBABLY not the type of “sex” that sells)

So… as part of our tour package to the Peninsula Valdes, we were brought to Puerto Piramides, a seaside village that is about 1.5 hours drive away from Puerto Madryn, where we would board a boat to Golfo Nuevo for an “up close and personal” experience with the Southern Right Whales.

I think we both fell a little in love with Puerto Piramides once we arrived.

It’s an incredibly chill cliff-side little town by the sea where the locals take leisurely horse-rides by the sea, old ladies sit around tea pots catching up on the latest gossips and the village children run amok around visiting tourists.

All this against a backdrop of ridiculously blue waters and untamed scenery. Add in a dash of impossibly fresh sea breeze, and I think we are pretty close to my idea of heaven.

Locals taking COOL horse rides along the shoreline

Locals taking COOL horse rides along the shoreline

While waiting for our boat, we decided to take a walk along the beach.

The village of Puerto Piramides and its beach are protected by cliffs that resemble pyramids (and hence PIRAMIDES). The cool thing about these cliffs is that they are believed to have been the ocean floor millions of years ago. As the waters receded and the cliff was exposed to millennium of erosion, we could actually see the different layers within the cliff walls. The most amazing thing for me was to see the different eras of fossilized invertebrates (some supposedly dating back 9 million years) embedded like the rings in a tree trunk.

A WALL of fossilized oysters, baby!

A WALL of fossilized oysters, baby! They have so many of these, they don’t even bother putting them in a museum

And then, there were the dogs…

The dogs

The dogs

We saw these two fellows looking forlornly at the sea… of course, Jo had to go pet them (who cares about fleas, right?) and we spent the next hour or so running up and down the beach (it is THAT kind of place).

A girl and (not) her dog

A girl and (not) her dog

Ok… back to the boat and whale sex.

From the moment we boarded our boat, through our boat ride to the middle of the gulf, we saw whales. TONNES of them. We didn’t even need to look out for them. They swam alongside the boat, and every once in a while, we could see one of them doing a joyous flip in the distance. Golfo Nuevo is positively infested with Southern Right Whales.

First Sighting

First Sighting

Nope... not ONE shot of a whale leaping out of the waters

Nope… not ONE shot of a whale leaping out of the waters

You know how when you have too much of a good thing, you cease to marvel at how wonderful they are? It was kinda like that with us…

Until the boat came to a stop in the middle of the Gulf.

Without the sounds of the engine running in the background, the whales started to swim nearer and nearer to the boat.

Probably as close as it gets...

Probably as close as it gets…

P madryn whale as close as it gets

It was also during this period of calm that we came to truly appreciate what a unique position we were in. We were in the middle of the sea with these gentle giants swimming all around us. There were no sounds of modern living… only the splash of the water as they flip about in the sun, and the occasional geyser of water from their blowholes as they breathe… We felt figuratively and literally dwarfed by Nature.

Close enough to take shots like these...

Close enough to take shots like these… The Southern Right Whales’ heads account for one third of its body length and they are easily identified by the white coloured outgrowths of tough skin on their gigantic heads. The callosities formed are unique to each whale… kinda like fingerprints for humans

And then it occurred to me… the breathing from the whales seemed to be unusually hurried… Also… why were they congregating in such large numbers???

Turns out they were literally clusterfucking…

According to our guide, what we understood (because no entendemos mucho español) was that the Sothern Right Whales engage in group mating. Large groups of ten or more males would jostle for position alongside a female and take their turns mating with the female, so yes… what we were seeing was a mass orgy of whales… I never thought I would live to see the day…

Now that you have that mental image… check out this video I made…


One thought on “Whales… from a boat

  1. Pingback: Patagonian Small Towns | TW and Jo's Excellent Adventure

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