Today I witnessed the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Whales. Seeing these creatures in their natural environment is single handedly, without a doubt the greatest most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Earlier that morning I had been a guide for our guests. We went to Eagle Rock, one of our nearby dive sites, and saw 16 Grey Reef Sharks moving together in one big pack, I’d never seen anything like it before, it was great. After that dive I thought that my day could not get any better. Boy was I wrong!
An afternoon dive to finish the day. Richard, Myself, Zee Germans (Nadine and Dja) and Nichole. We went out the closest passage, Korolevu, took a right and there they were. Nadine spotted the dorsal fins on the surface, they looked just like dolphins but then we saw them surface, huge square heads, Pilot Whales. I counted twelve on the surface at one time.
We approached them ever so slowly and Drex our driver stopped the engine. We were in, without a second thought we were in. Now some people may think that this was not a very smart thing to do but we were in the water before you could have said ‘watch out for the sharks’. A once in a life time opportunity that was taken by all on board.
The Pilot Whales were about 12 – 15m away from the boat, four of them. The biggest one opened its mouth showing hundreds of sharp crocodile looking teeth and he crunched down on a Spanish mackerel so hard that the fish split clean in two, this is the honest truth. The big whale took one half of the fish and passed it so gently to the smaller one. Wow, it was amazing! Truly amazing!
We saw it again four whales feeding and sharing and then the smallest one turned and came straight towards the boat. There were four divers in the water, just with mask and snorkels, we were holding on to the side of the boat and the smallest whale was swimming right at us. If I was not so frozen by amazement I would have reached out and touched him. He swam so close then turned onto his belly and swam right under us, looking at us with his big eye. He swam so close that I could see myself in his eye, I remember seeing my mouth wide open in astonishment in the reflection.
Then came the shark, 3.5 – 4m Silver tip! This is the first time I have truly thought I was going to die. Dja said he saw the shark earlier and he didn’t really want to get back in the water, I made fun of him and told him he was exaggerating and no way could the shark be 3m long. And for the second time today boy was I wrong! (Sorry Dja) Previously before jumping back into the water (after hearing Dja’s exaggerated Shark story that turned out not to be an exaggeration at all) I said to Drex, our driver, that if there is a shark in the water I wanted him to promise me that he would pull me out first, I was only really joking, but I still made him promise.
This silver tip came from the deep I could see it eating scraps left by the whales, it came charging towards the boat. At first I thought it was a whale, but as it came closer I saw it had an angry face not like the happy whale face. Everyone screamed shark and furiously started kicking ourselves onto the boat. Everyone except for Richard who calmly remained in the water before slowly getting back onto the boat. Drex was laughing at everyone because he thought we were joking but then I think he saw the pure terror in everyone’s face, and I must remember to thank him because as soon as he realised we were serious he pulled me out of the water so fast I almost flew right back in over the opposite side of the boat. It was the first time Drex had seen whales that close, it was the first time any of us had seen whales that close. Even the shark came to the surface and was trying to feed with the whales – Wow! I wish I could do this experience justice with words – but – but I just can’t.
It was like seeing a mythical creature, an old creature, an animal that has traveled so far, so deep, seen so much, speaks an ancient secret language, so elegant, so beautiful and so amazingly powerful. We were allowed a small glimpse of this magic. A secret look at one of earths most majestic creatures.
Today I saw everyone I love, everyone who is here and gone, I saw life and death and I saw it all in the eye of a whale.