The sea is teeming with life off the coast of Gabon. Dolphins frolic close to shore, sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches from December to March, and humpback whales give birth and mate off the coast from June to September. The last weekend in August we had the immense pleasure to be invited to be go whale watching with Daniel on his boat.
Teun left on Saturday morning with Daniel and few others to try their luck at fishing and then camping on the beach. Unsure of how my body was going to take to the potentially very choppy water, I decided to not go for the full two days on the boat, but instead left on Sunday morning with a few other to meet them.
Apparently Teun and the rest of the first group spent the whole afternoon on Saturday trolling to no avail (saw loads of whales though, from what I heard it was actually pretty comical how many whales there were, like oh look another whale…), so unfortunately after landing on the beach they set up camp and went to bed without a fish feast that evening. However, the next morning on their way back to pick us up Teun and Angus both got bites on their lines in quick succession. And after the battle to end all battles (I believe there was blood, sweat and tears shed) Teun pulled in a massive rouge! (African red snapper I believe). As you can imagine, when Teun came onto shore to meet us he was beaming with pride as he displayed his mighty catch.
After a change of crew we set off for the open seas. We had a nice ride down the river for about 15 minutes as Daniel joyfully explained the dangers of exiting the river mouth and how to navigate through the breaking surf to get out to the ocean without capsizing the boat and potentially drowning us all. As we neared the breaking waves we were instructed to hold on and we all braced ourselves for some serious rocking, but hopefully not rolling. He navigated out into the calmer waters with ease and we began our search for whales.It didn’t take too long before a splash in the water was spotted and soon we were within meters of a small pod of humpback whales! It was really amazing being so close to such huge and majestic animals. One was particularly curious about us and popped up what seemed like right next to the boat and twisted its massive body around on the surface to get a good look at us.
For the next couple of hours we enjoyed the peaceful surrounding of the sea and the gentle lull of the waves as we searched and found several more whales. We were also joined by a group of dolphins for a bit, they had fun swimming in our wake and we clicked away trying to get decent photos of them.
For the most part the whales were pretty lazy, just popping up to get some air, with a little bit of tail action here and there, but then we came across one that treated us to a little acrobatics leaping out of the water and landing with a huge splash. It. Was. Awesome!