Whale watching from a surf ski

  • JeandeFlorette
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9 years 11 months ago - 9 years 11 months ago #12952 by JeandeFlorette
Whale watching from a surf ski was created by JeandeFlorette
I have now been paddling an ocean ski for the last 6 years or so, having 'migrated' from a sea kayak... never looked back despite the earlier hesitation and self inflicted pain of learning the ropes. I was inspired by a 70 year old paddler who was extremely fit and was still competing, and more importantly by observing Dean Gardiner (whom I did not know at the time) train a bunch of elite paddlers at Balmoral beach (NSW Australia). I quietly approached him and asked for some advice which he readily gave and here I am today... hooked to the only sport in the world which allows a novice to be on the same starting line as several olympians, hence the ability to learn and mix with them is amazingly beneficial!

Once, I was comfortable enough and had the right safety equipment I started to venture offshore on a regular basis and soon enough I started to encounter wild life of the mammalian species, namely dolphins and whales. I have paddled through a very large pod of dolphins in a feeding frenzy, school of glistening garfish at dawn, and my count of whale encounter has not stopped to grow over the years. So far, the tally stands at 9... My first encounter was on an early paddle as the crack of dawn, during which 4 adult humpback whales were protecting a calf inside the Heads of Sydney Harbour. I paddled comfortably with them at a cruising speed of 10km/hr for about half an hour, after which I was mesmerised and felf very humble, vulnerable and insignificant all at once at the sight of such majestic creatures who did not mind my presence at all. I was blown away by their skillful manner of surrounding the calf a bit like bouncers would protect Lady Gaga coming out of the airport! I was on a high for quite a few days... I was late for work that day, not that it mattered much and could not stop talking about it to all that would care to listen.

Again inside Sydney Harbour, after an offshore session, mother and calf were playfully resting on their journey to warmer waters up the coast. I spend quite some time around them and even fell in the water while trying to take a photo with my mobile phone. The stupid thing had run out of memory and I lost my balance in a lapse of concentration. Instantly I panicked and in one fell swoop, I got back on my ski doing the side straddle for the first time ever. In fact there was no need to panic but what got to me was the noise and vibration that whales make under water... I was in a safe place as long as I was respectful and kept a reasonable distance. Us paddlers are of no threat to them as we do not make much noise or disturbance.

My last encounter was 6 weeks ago in Malabar, where 2 tired medium size humpback decide to come and rest as far as the swimming pool and stayed inside Long Bay for over an hour to the delight of passers by on the promenade. I have developed my own technique to keep a safe distance and to ensure that they did not surprise me by breaching close by! AS they come up to breath, they leave a circular footprint of flat water corresponding to the diameter of their tail. All I do, is keep say 40-50m and paddle in parallel to the track left by the circles. It has worked so far...

I have now bought a head cam and will hopefully one day be able to share some images with you all. So long!

JDF ;)
Last edit: 9 years 11 months ago by JeandeFlorette. Reason: correct some typos

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9 years 11 months ago #12954 by Rightarmbad
I've got several lots of footage of whales and dolphins and such from my GoPro, but if I use the wide setting, usually do, they just look soo far away.

And on that note, my house mate has seen a sea lion pup down here at Currumbin rocks and I was told by another that they thought they saw a penguin tailfin flip over, but I assume that they are the same beast.
Not the normal stomping ground for these creatures as far as I can tell.

Plenty of dolphins out off Tugun and they often cruise along right next to the boat, roll over on to their side and look straight back at you as they cruise along.

Follow the path of the independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that are important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.--- Thomas J. Watson

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9 years 11 months ago - 9 years 11 months ago #12955 by Christopher
In Cape Town recently I've heard of quite a few paddlers getting too close to whales, including a whale knocking a guy off his ski. As long as you can respect the whales space then it's a really amazing experience.

Here's the link + pics of the whale vs ski if you're interested. www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2194136...s-close-comfort.html
Last edit: 9 years 11 months ago by Christopher.

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9 years 11 months ago #12957 by Rightarmbad
Funnily enough, I just come back from a paddle and right at the rocks at Currumbin were two big whales and a pup in toe, no more than 60m off the rocks.
They continued south inside the shark nets past Tugun.

Flat as a tack out this morning, so great visibility and they headed straight at me going either side of me.

Nice start to the day.

Had a chat to the lifeguard, seems they come through there all the time coming back down south.

Follow the path of the independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that are important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.--- Thomas J. Watson

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9 years 11 months ago #12961 by FalllGuy
Great story JDF...

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