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Song From Down Under
For the last two weeks you’ve listened to each member of our team whine and moan, sometimes tear up and near cry about the daily struggles of working in Port Douglas waters (this is of course a bit of an exaggeration.. kind of). With the winds, the seas, and the all encompassing extremities of life on the water here, it seems as though each day has ended with a daily standoff between our glaring eyes and those “picture perfect” postcard images lining harbor shop windows.
From word of mouth, it is perhaps only once every other month that the Port Douglas winds abate within the winter months, but as luck would have it today marked the first of a predicted three days of calm, flat conditions.
By 7:30am we were up and on the water (a full hour earlier than the team is typically accustomed to) and by 9:00am we were nearing the outer edges of the reef. Not typically able to reach the outer reef due to conditions, we were all anxious to see what might be in store. Just short of the outer reef however a call was received regarding a humpback sighting just northwest of our location; two humpbacks, no obvious direction of travel, not really doing anything… Got it, on it!
Within fifteen minutes we had arrived at our mark, but it wasn’t until giving up our survey nearly 40 minutes later that Amanda finally spotted the pair about a half a mile off our port (left) side. Spirits were running high as we all got into place and readied all camera equipment, but it would be another 20 minutes yet before we’d lay eyes on the pair again.
Often times, if close enough, one can hear the humpback’s song from the surface. Any second guessing of one’s self can usually be cleared up by placing an ear on the hull of the boat, but if all else fails we’ll typically put a hydrophone (underwater microphone) in the water. Indeed our whales would not be returning to the surface anytime soon because one of the adults was singing!
Often times it’s difficult to collect quality whale song with commercial and recreational traffic interfering with recordings, but with all the dive charters at their moorings and not a cargo ship in sight we took full advantage.
For the next 40 minutes we sat adrift and recorded several cycles of this season’s whale song, simply observing nature at its finest. We made our way back into the harbor later that evening and still excited about the song we decidedly made the rounds to all the dive charters, giving them the chance to listen to this year’s song as well.
For your chance to listen to this year's whale song, check out our youtube page! The video should be up shortly.. Let us know what you think!
P.S - This year’s recordings will be sent off to whale song expert Libby Eyre, of Macquarie University Sydney, New South Wales to be analyzed and compared to song from previous years.