Eye to Eye with a Whale by Iain Kerr

Beyond the hard work there are many special moments at sea: great sunsets, spectacular light shows from thunder storms, and the joy of seeing a team work so well together for a common cause.  A couple of days ago I had one of these lifetime moments.

140711-EM-OTG-Roger-Leg-IMG_5488I was sitting out on the whale boom as we approached a whale slowly. Rather than dive the whale turned towards us and I asked Captain Bob to put the Odyssey’s engine into neutral. The whale spy-hopped (lifted its head out of the water) and swam over to where I was sitting, rolled over sideways and looked up at me. It felt like we were less than 5 feet away from each other eye to eye (it was most likely more). The whale just hung there for a few moments as we looked at each other. I doubt that the whale was in awe but I was. I could see the very texture of its skin, scars on its body, creases under its eye, clearly this animal was checking us out and then, alas, it slowly turned away and dived into the abyss.

I have no idea what that whale was thinking but when it looked at me its eye was not passive–it seemed to rove around over me and my little perch.  For me it was one of the clearest reminders as to why I do this job. These animals deserve not only our respect but also our protection.  They have just the same right to swim in a healthy ocean as we do.  An ocean that is filling up with humanity’s garbage whether it’s from our ignorance, inaction, lack of concern, or accidents such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Come on humanity. Oceans matter. Please get involved in ocean conservation. Please help us help the wild world.

Sunset in the Gulf of Mexico