Is it really a week since I updated this journal? Come to think of it - it was a rather busy week. You'll remember I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that it was DH's birthday. To celebrate we took a trip last Sunday afternoon to (hopefully) see some whales out of Sydney harbour. Because it was a Sunday afternoon, we thought it was probably going to be fairly tight getting into the city after our church service so instead of taking the train as we had originally planned, we drove to the Opera House parking station which is only about 10 minutes walk from where the boat was leaving from. We did get there earlier than we thought but it was rather nice being able to sit on a seat in the sun and watch the ferries and other small craft coming and going.
We boarded the vessel with quite a lot of other people and there was a kind of aura of anticipation amongst us all - would we see any whales or not ?? (The company operating the vessel offers another free trip if no whales are sighted on the day) There were about 100 people on board.
The weather was brilliant inside the harbour - sunny but quite cool with a bit of a breeze. It took about 10 minutes to get to the 'heads' and once there, the boat began rocking and rolling big time! Outside the entrance to the harbour the swell must have been at least 3 metres and everybody was hanging on tightly to avoid falling.
The boat was in touch by radio with 'spotters' - some on the cliffs above the ocean and others on boats already viewing these mammals. We were all so excited by the news that there was quite a large pod about 1 1/2 miles ahead. As we made for the spot, I went up on to the top deck (3 levels in all) with camera in hand, woollen beanie and thick jacket - oh was it cold and windy. I could feel the wind trying to jerk my beanie off my head, despite it being pulled down well over my ears. With camera in one hand and hanging on to the rail with the other we came upon our first sight of these magnificent creatures. There were about 11 in the group and they were swimming north at about 5 miles an hour. The boat kept up with them cruising slowly parallel to them. Because there were so many in the group, there always seemed to be two or three up on the surface. Apparently they dive deep and are down for around 7 minutes before coming to the surface for 4 or 5 'blows' from their blowhole - then off they dive down again.
We are so fortunate here on the east coast of Australia to have the annual breeding migration in our winter, from south to north and again during our summer when the whales return to the south with their babies. They pass our coastline so closely which gives us the opportunity of viewing them frequently. They are seen from the shore quite often but of course seeing them so closely from a boat gives the opportunity to just how large they are.
What an awesome and exhilarating experience to see these wonderful hump back whales so close in their own natural environment. The boats by law must stay at least 100 metres away from the whales but on one occasion when we had moved to another spot, two of these massive animals surfaced just about 25 metres away from the boat - on the side that I was on. Wow - they are so huge. They were simply about their own business and apparently had decided to change course. They just kept swimming away from us - but oh what a moment!
All in all, this was a wonderful afternoon, despite the cold wind and the 'bumpy' ride, we were just so wonderfully blessed to see God's creatures so close. Isn't He wonderful?
Have a blessed day!