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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
The time I saw Humpback whales in the Midnight sun, Greenland

The time I saw Humpback whales in the Midnight sun, Greenland

I have sailed to the Antarctica Peninsula and on the coast of Iceland - Two places where whales are regularly sighted. Antarctica brought me thousands of Penguins, while Iceland have me a cold and unforgiving boat ride - Neither gave me the elusive mammal I most wanted to see. When I ventured to the wilderness that is Greenland, I dared not hope to even catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures - Surely it wouldn't happen. Fortunately and with great joy I can write this article with the lasting memory of seeing 5 or 6 Humpback whales in my mind. I have done it! I count myself extremely lucky to be oe of the few people who have seen both colonies of penguins in Antarctica and whales in the waters of Greenland. The only animal that eludes me now is the Polar Bear; maybe that will come in a later chapter of my adventures?

The Ilulissat Icefiord - The setting for my whale adventure

So where did this all happen? On my second to last day in Greenland I embarked on a boat tour called "Icebergs in the midnight sun". You can read about the oat trip and the Illulisat Icefiord here, but it was a fascinating tour and the memories I have from it are sublime. The boat made its way through the Icefiord and gave us some exceptional views of the gigantic icebergs. The tour guide mentioned that we would hopefully see a whale - I secretly laughed at the idea, as if we would!

When I heard the first cry my heart raced and I looked around frantically to see what the commotion was. And there it was; a fleeting glimpse of the tail of a humpback whale falling into the water. I was stunned. I raced to the front of the boat and fixed my 70-200mm lens to my camera. The whale surfaced again and I could see its fin and sleek shiny back. Most people were frantically clicking away with their cameras - I decided to shoot video instead as I wasn't confident in my TV mode skills. I spent what felt like an age watching this majestic creature who was soon joined by more - They called to each other; the sound was heart wrenching and full of soul and longing.

I saw many fins, blowholes, spurts of water and tails diving into the water; it really was an unbelievable experience and the captain did a really good job of keeping us in a great viewing position while still respecting the whales space.

At one point one of the whales gently raised its tail out of the water and left it out for what seemed like a lifetime. It twirled and pirouetted and even looked like it was waving to us.

When it looked as if the whales had swam off into the distance most of the tour went back inside to warm up. I stayed on deck - My perseverance paid off. A few moments later a humpback rose gracefully out of the water head first and stayed submerged for a while. Afterwards it stopped maybe 20m from the boat and I got some really good close-up footage.

It really is a spectacular feeling to see a whale in the open waters. It was even more special to see these immense mammals in the midnight sun and surrounded by huge and beautiful icebergs. I consider myself to be privileged to have been part of this and the memory will stay with me forever.

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