Uppdaterad: 27 jun 2020
I´ve just got back home from the most amazing expedition.
I´ve dreamed about seeing some of the four species of right whales for as long as I can remember. Sadly the right whales are among the most endangerd in the world.
Most species of this family still suffer from the time of whaling- They even got their name from the phrase "Right whale to kill".
The eastern population of the North-Atlantic Right Whales are almost all gone now. Only a handful (if any) is left out there. My dream to see them in the North Sea seems so far away.
In the Northwest of America the same species struggling with entanglement and ship strikes.
However... 13.000 km away from my home (Sweden), the Souhern Right whales have done an amazing come-back in the south Atlantic. Protection from both whaling and commersial fisheries like trawlers and drift-nets have made their population grow big. And in the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina - you don´t need to go out far on the ocean to see them - In fact.. you can just take a walk down the beach. It is truly a conservation success.
My first encounter with them was nothing but amazing.
I quietly entered the cold South Atlantic Ocean from a ribbon boat and started to swim slowly towards a big female with a calf. As soon as I could see them under water I stopped and waited for their reaction. In this bad visibility I can not push the situation too far - I can put my self in the right position but all the close encounters must be on the whales initiave.
After a couple of seconds of waiting, the young calf started to swim towards me and our interaction was like none I´ve ever had. For abouth 30-45 minutes the whale swam around me, underneath me and even above me. Never have I had an encounter like that.
After a couple of days on the sea - we had our first encounter with a white calf. Usally it´s hard to get close to the white ones under water. Their mothers are very protective.
Luckily - the sea was flat and the whales seemed to be calm - we took the chance and entered the water. The encounter was not as long as we have had with the other whales - and the sea was more murky than the days before - but the white calf came towards us and then disappeared. Then did it again and again until the whale finally vanished in the murky green-blue water, not to return.
The Southern Right whales are now in healthy numbers. But sadly their food is now beeing heavily fished. The global trade for antarctic krill is now putting the whales in the southern seas at risk again.. I hope that they are not facing the same future as their northern cousins.
This trip was organized by Frank Wirth and Patagonia Project. You guys are the best!
All the close diving(snorkeling/freediving) with the whales was done with a special Photography-permit. It´s not allowed to dive with them without this permit.
Camera gear used: Sony A7Riv - Sony 12-24 f4 G - Easydive Leo3wi