Swimming with humpback whales

Photo credit: Jodi Frediani

If you want to be amazed and can live with a bit of envy, then attending a presentation by Jodi Frediani is definitely the activity for you.

Jodi presented a slide show of her top photographs during a lecture hosted by the American Cetacean Society’s Los Angeles Chapter (ACS/LA) on September 28, 2010. The photos featured the humpback whales she swims with off the Dominican Republic’s coast.

Humpback whale photos are always awe inspiring, but Jodi took whale photography to the next level by weaving together a fascinating story of her experiences. This included a Sherlock Holmes investigation of one particular mom humpback and calf she spent three days with. The mom was very relaxed and allowed her calf to check out the swimmers, so Jodi became curious if she could find out more about this whale.

The humpback whales that migrate to shallower areas near the Dominican Republic do so every year to breed and give birth. But whales have to eat somewhere and these humpback whales swim north to feed in the very productive waters along the Massachusetts coast and as far north as Norway.

East Coast scientists and naturalists have been tracking individual humpback whales for years by taking photos of the underside of the flukes. Every humpback whale’s tail has a unique pattern of white splattered on a blue-black background on the bottom-side. Since no two flukes are the same, these distinctive patterns allow each whale to be identified.

Jodi realized that by taking a photo of the mom humpback whale’s flukes she could then show it to someone familiar with whales off the coast of Massachusetts and possibility find out more. Well long story short, she flew there herself and showed the photo of the whale to a naturalist and the naturalist knew right away that whale was Spoon.

Photo credit: Jodi Frediani

Spoon was first spotted in 1977 and is famous in the feeding area along the Stellwagen Bank off the Massachusetts coast. She’s given birth to several calves and is well loved. And now thanks to Jodi’s efforts we know that Spoon migrates to the Dominican Republic to give birth.

Of course I’m only conveying a small portion of Jodi’s presentation. Her underwater photographs of humpbacks are truly marvelous. Oh to swim with whales, another item to add to the bucket list.

For more information or to view Jodi’s photos go to www.jodifrediani.com, for information on how to swim with humpbacks off the Dominican Republic go to www.consciousbreathadventures.com and if you are interested in attending the next ACS/LA lecture go to www.acs-la.org.

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