Swimming with Beasts.
An average morning surfing a local jetty with John before work- I catch a glimpse in the distance of a tail breaking the water’s surface, soon after a spout blows.
A pod is congregating about a quarter mile away on our 10 o’clock.
Another surface breech, this time I see a pectoral fin as the whale rolls.
We continue surfing.
The whales are now drifting closer, perhaps 200 meters away. We catch a good look at one, its massive head and back, and are pretty certain they’re Humpbacks. There appear to be at least half a dozen of varying sizes, a family, all moving slowly north. Pre-dawn fishermen and beach walkers are beginning to congregate on the sand to look.
We keep surfing, watching.
Within a few minutes, the pod is now directly in front of us, about 100 meters deep. We decide to swim outside to get a better look, not expecting them to actually be there when we get out.
But the whales hold, seemingly waiting for us, massive shapes lurking below the surface. Small boils, ripples, and turbulence on the surface give away their locations.
They’re getting very close. We sit on our boards, watching, slightly nervous.
Without warning, the largest whale slowly breaks the surface, a smaller one beside it, lumpy black-grey backs parting the water. The largest is easily over eight feet wide. They’re less than 10 meters away and headed right for us. There’s a mix of laughter, amazement, and a background fear that we’re too close. The massive bodies then dip and silently disappear below the surface. They’re somewhere in the deep under us. One then surfaces not far from John. Another appears behind me. Again they disappear. Most stay under, sending ripples and small wakes around us. We’re fully surrounded, apparently being investigated, and we’re completely exhilarated, yelling at each other in disbelief, craning our necks to figure out where they are. We’ve been gifted by the presence of swimming giants, powerful yet gentle beasts seemingly expressing nothing but curiosity towards us.
Stillness now. They’ve moved on, sliding northward, soon surfacing about 50 feet away.
We’re grinning wide-eyed like maniacs.