Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Chilling and Whale watching

One of the highlights of our year is the return of the whales to our shores. Each year, between June and September, whales (mostly Southern Right and Humpbacks) return from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to give birth and mate. It is an event we look forward to keenly, and we have a few favourite spots where we like to sit and look for them.


The prime one, for us, is the wild side at Cape St Francis. There are few things in this world that can beat the simple pleasure of sitting on the rough, weather beaten rocks, with waves pounding in front of one, watching pods of whales ambling past, or if you are REALLY lucky, stopping to play.
We have been champing at the bit to get down there since the beginning of June, but were stuck at home, as my extremely high maintenance father was staying with us. However, we despatched him back home (with, I am ashamed to confess, a HUGE sigh of relief!) on Friday afternoon, and with indecent haste took ourselves off for a weekend in St Francis to unwind from the stress of the previous few weeks, and hopefully see a whale.
We only got there quite late on Saturday, and after unpacking, we headed straight for the rocks to see the sunset. We watched for ages, snapped some shots of interesting clouds, and sat in the car checking out each other's photos.
We heard a boom on the water that sounded different to the waves crashing on the rocks, and looked up to see a group of humpback whales right in front of us, lobtailing and creating huge splashes. It was SOOOO exciting! It was already too dark to take decent stills, so I just stood and squealed like a five year old at the pure joy of it. With great presence of mind, Max set his camera to take a movie clip, and despite the poor light, it worked. He will try and post it on his blog in the next few days, and if he does I'll post the link. The one thing that we find hugely frustrating about our cameras is that they film in MOV format, which plays back on Quicktime, an Apple product. It does not seem to be compatable with any of the programmes we have for editing movies. I looked on the site, because I considered getting quicktime pro, but there is no mention of being able to use it to edit clips and make stills from them, on a Windows based PC. I don't want to spend all that money upgrading if the programme will not do what I need it to do. If anyone knows what we should do, please let me know!
This might sound corny to anyone who has not been in the presence of whales, but I find they impart an amazing sense of wellbeing. Even when they are too far away to see anything but the distant spout of vapour as they breathe, somehow their presence is so powerful, peaceful, even joyful. (Obviously not everyone reacts like this, I imagine the guys who handle the harpoons on the whaling ships just see them as a particularly big catch, but less hardened and soul-less individuals seem to be deeply touched by them.)
The next morning we went to watch the sunrise at otters landing .....
.... and saw a school of bottlenose dolphins cruise by. They meant business, and were heading fast across the bay, no playful jumping was going on, so the photos are not too exciting.

Still, this is another animal that has a similar effect to that of the whales, and it is always fun to spot them. I know many people, and particularly surfers, (including our son) who have swum amongst groups of dolphins and they always come out of the water on an absolute high.


After breakfast we headed straight for the lighthouse, because we thought that Seal Point, which offers 360 degree views from the rocks, would be a good place to spot any whales that might be around.
Before long we had spotted the first group...
and by mid morning we had seen 3 families cruise past.
They were not playing like the ones the previous night, and were much further out, but it was still wonderful to have a grandstand view of these awesome creatures.
Nothing could have been more effective in getting rid of the stress of the past 5 weeks, and we went home content and relaxed.

15 comments:

RuneE said...

Very beautiful pictures and interesting information (and thank you for the nice comment!)!

Quciktime Pro will import and export a lot of formats on a Windows machine, and it also allows some editing.

Rose said...

Wonder post and pictures...I have totally enjoyed it. Those sunsets photos are absolutely breathtaking!

Jenty said...

Oh you lucky fish that you live so close by!! What stunning shots!

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

WOW and WOW again... Spectacular post... your photos are amazing... I loved reading this... I am happy to hear you are much more at ease!

Katney said...

Absolutely wonderful.

dot said...

Enjoyed your pictures. I bet that was a fantastic sight in person.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Fantastic..what a joy those sightings must have been...
I have a couple of products from a company called Serif, I like the ease of use and just how good they stuff is.. I had a look at their MovieMaker 5 and it dose import and export quicktime formats.
SERIF

Great post Suzi..

Suzi-k said...

thanks for the info, Rune and Tom. The serif looks like a great product. Unfortunately the exchange rate is so bad at the moment, I need to decide if I will use it enough to justify spending R1000 on it! Quicktime pro looks less appealing, but it is a quarter of the price, so I might end up with it....

For The People said...

Those are some great shots! Man what I would have given to be there! Thanks for stopping by my place. Good morning from Mississippi, USA. I hope you have a wonderful morning!

Kris McCracken said...

Now THAT is impressive! Well worth the wait, I would bet.

Diane said...

Sue--
You lucky ducks! I, too, love whales, and I understand completely your comment about a sense of well-being when whales are around. We saw whales off the Heads in Knynsna and near Gordan's Bay last year on our SA trip--2 major highlights. We literally watched them for an hour or more.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful pix. And I'm glad you've had some time to relax!
Diane

Neva said...

You all live in an amazing part of the world where you have so many different things at your fingertips....jungles, oceans, lovely downtowns and light houses and whales! I loved your photos here....all of them.....thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

babooshka said...

You have all my whales and dolphins!
I would love to be so close. The light you get here is so fluid, i could snap all day. Great read too.

photowannabe said...

Fantastic pictures and I agree with everything you said. There is such a peaceful energy that comes from seeing these magnificent creatures.
i saw my first whales from a boat last year. It was one of the most exciting things I have done.

Dick said...

Fantastic pictures, I like the sky too, thanks for visiting.