One of the things I learned before I ever moved to Ecuador was that the area where I would be living was one of the best places along the coast to watch the Humpback whale migration (the name for whale in Spanish is “Ballena”). This is something that takes place during the months of June-October, as thousands of whales come to the warm waters of this area to have their young, so I was greatly anticipating this time of year! (See this link for more information about the whale migration.)
I have actually been able to see some of the whale activity way off in the distance from the beach! I have seen their huge, black figures shoot out of the water (in what is called a “breach”) and the giant splash that results. I’ve also seen the spouting. The sightings are even more prevalent down where my house is located – when visiting my friends Mark and Diane a few weeks back, we saw them coming very close to the shore and they have since reported seeing them even closer!
But a few weeks ago, I was finally able to make the trip to nearby Puerto Lopez to take one of the whale watching excursion boat tours. They depart from there as part of the tours of Machalilla National Park and nearby Isle de la Plata. It was a cloudy, chilly day and in all honesty, the whale activity was much more subtle and sparse compared to what I experienced on a whale watching tour in Alaska in 2005. However, it is still awesome to observe these mammoth creatures up close! As an added bonus, it just so happened we had several young biologists on our boat as well as a lady from the Pacific Whale Foundation, all there to study the whales. So not only did we get the benefit of more education than we would have received on another tour, but after the other tour boats left the area, they even dropped down sonar equipment so they could record and we could actually hear the whales “sing” under the water!
Below are a few pictures – unfortunately, it is very hard to get good ones (especially with a slow camera). By the time you see and click, what you are seeing is over! But this is just a little taste to whet your appetite – you’ll have to plan a trip to come see me to experience them for yourself!