Eric Cheng’s stock video footage / show reel of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in clear water off the coast of Dominica (central Caribbean). Includes footage of Scar, the famous resident 10-year old male sperm whale in the “Group of 7″ pod. Whales from the “Group of 7″ and the “Utensils Group” are both included.
Footage shot with a Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR in High Definition 1080p, H.264 @ 40Mbps.
Over/under image of a juvenile sperm whale in Dominica (Physeter macrocephalus)
We have finished our 6 days on the water here in Dominica, and will be headed home later on today. Our last day was probably a rather typical winter day with the whales here in Dominica, which is to say that we weren’t dropped into a social group within an hour of leaving dock (as we have been on previous days!). We went around the south part of the island into unprotected waters and watched whales from the surface, but were not really able to work with them successfully.
Tony and I were interviewed for local TV last night, and I stressed that Dominica’s healthy reefs and clear water will probably not be seen by underwater photographers (other than the cruise ship happy-snappy people) until the transportation problem here is fixed. American Eagle has strict limits on baggage, and leaving here requires an overnight in San Juan. It takes me longer to get to and from Dominica than it does for me to get to Bali, and even if it were possible to get dive gear and camera rig here via indirect international check-in, it might be impossible to get the gear out.
Group photo at dinner: Ricardo, Cor, Julie, Tony, Emiko, Curt, Rhona, me, Gabriel and Andrew
Tonight, our hosts Andrew and Rhona Armour invited us to their lovely home in Dominica for a farewell barbecue. Everything here on the island is built on beautiful mountain-side coastline, so their house (which is “in the bush,” Rhona says) is nestled in lush greenery sandwiched between breaking waves and towering peaks. The sky was as dark as I’ve ever seen it, and even Andromeda was clearly visible as a little smudge next to a bright red celestial body (probably Mars).
Rhona had whipped up an incredible feast during the day, which turned out to be the best meal we’ve had since arriving in Dominica. We sat out on the patio in near darkness enjoying great food and company. Peggy Oki, Elisa Buller, and Caleb came out from across the island for dinner as well.
I have to thank Andrew and Rhona Armour and crew members Ricardo Barrett, Captain Curt, and Joel, who were all collectively responsible for getting us in the water with the magnificent sperm whales of Dominica. I really hope to be able to return to see more of the island; Dominica’s undeveloped beauty rivals any other place I’ve been in the world.
A sperm whale calf in Dominica.. Photo taken under permit.
Day 5: yet another fantastic day on the water! We spent most of the day swimming with whales, and all of us have aching muscles. Scar came around for a bit but didn’t seem to want to play. Although we saw groups of up to 8 sperm whales at once, only smaller groups (2-3) seemed to be socializing at the surface. We spent a lot of time with a calf, who let us hang out with him for about twenty minutes.
It’s getting harder and harder to choose images to post because there are just too many! I know — it’s a tough problem to have. :)
We saw fewer whales today and spent most of the day looking for whales that might tolerate a human presence in the water. A cute little calf (we’re told it’s Enigma’s baby) was accompanied by up to 12 larger sperm whales, but none of us were able to capture all 13 in one frame. (read more »)
After yesterday’s incredible encounters, we left dock (late — island time!) and ventured north, where we were told sperm whales had been sighted. After an hour and a half of cruising, we spotted a tight bunch of whales on the surface, and when we dropped in, we discovered 11 sperm whales! 9 of them were clustered together in a tight ball, and 2 were off to the side a bit. (read more »)
What an incredible first day! We’re all pretty much wiped out, and I can’t think well enough to try to put the day’s experiences into words. Instead, I’ll leave you with a bunch of sperm whale photos, which I posted to Flickr.
Oh — check out that second shot. Scar has the end of a squid are stuck to his mouth. We pulled it out of his mouth and brought it back to the boat. I have pictures (for later).
Another day, another timelapse. Even though I was really, really tired after a full day of swimming with sperm whales, I dutifully set up my tripod and grabbed this sunset timelapse in Dominica. It’s on Vimeo in 1080p; click over if you want to see it in high-definition.
Scar, a 10-year old male sperm whale (Physeter Macrocephalus) in Dominica
We had incredible encounters today with up to 6 sperm whales at a time. We even met Scar, a personable 10-year old male sperm whale who nearly begs to be rubbed! Photos taken under permit. (read more »)