Ivory, effervescent bubbles burst, exploding turquoise beads from the depths below. Churning swells of the Indian Ocean birth a fresh spray of water every second. Sharp, purposeful waves surge against each other as the eco safari ploughs ahead. The calmer waters of Featherbed Bay in the lagoon lead us to the Knynsa Heads. These colossal, towering sea cliffs juxtapose one another. Johannes, our skipper swerves the boat to avoid the smaller rock formations that emerge from the sandy bottom. The roars from the surging water echo in the caves as the boat heads toward the surging ocean. The thrills that this preview brought excite visitors for the whale watching ahead.
The swells tussle and turn as the vessel overcomes each one with more ease than the next. We enter the open ocean and the turquoise hues are replaced with pigments of royal blue. Our first visitor arrives within moments and plays passenger alongside us. The Cape Fur seal orients its head toward us returning our curious stares. The sun shine glistens on its damp body as it dives amongst the seawater.
Our wandering odyssey continues as we say goodbye to our charismatic partner. Words from a wanderer are overheard on the speaker as Johannes changes direction. The migratory gentle giants of the ocean are close by. While humans imprint footprints in the sand that slowly wash away, whale footprints fade away with the tide. These marks are the consequence of the whale’s forward motion propelled by its tail flukes and mark the spots where whales breach for their breaths. A perfectly smeared circle sat on the surface of the water ahead – an encounter was in the horizon.
As a child, I only dreamed of the memories my eyes are creating in this moment. Catapulting its body to the surface, the whales leapt and danced with one each other. The breaching was a ceremony one only wishes to be invited to. Delightful spells seem to cast over us as we admire the Humpbacks. Each barnacle more aesthetically pleasing than the next, the sizes and bodies of these prodigious underwater beings take our breath away. White tipped fins, stubby throat grooves and dark blubber cascade amongst the expanse. We chase the pavements created by the footprints until they lead nowhere. Our two-hour long expedition has come to an end but the experience is imprinted on us forever. I look behind the boat as the mother and calf breach for a final time raising their left flippers in unison as if to bid us farewell…