Swimming with whales is a very special experience which many people do not ever get the chance to do. There are many places around the world which offer this unique experience for tourists. In Australia there are few companies with permits to swim with the Dwarf Minke Whales which migrate past the Great Barrier Reef.
About Dwarf Minke Whales
Minke whales are the smallest of the Baleen Whale family. All baleen whales have two blow holes. They are easily recognisable by their distinct white band on each flipper which contrasts with their darker backs.
Dwarf minkes have a distinct form and are only found in the southern hemisphere. The females are larger than the males. Dwarf minke females are on average 2 meters smaller than the female antarctic minkes.
All minke whales are seasonal feeders, eating a diet consisting mainly of krill, plankton and small fish.
Although there is estimated to be around 800,00 individuals, little more is known about these whales.
Swimming with the Minkes
Minkes are very curious creatures and will often approach boats. Permits have been given to certain boats to allow their passengers to swim with these whales. The permits are quite strict, but they ensure that the whales stay in control of the situation.
No scuba diving or free diving is permitted. Swimmers are required to stay on the surface holding onto a rope from the boat. The whales can come as close or stay as far away as they wish to. In no situation is a person allowed to swim towards the whales.
If you go out on one of these trips you will find that the rules are taken very seriously because any breach of the requirements and the boat could loose its permit. Often if you do not abide by the rules you will not be allowed back in the water for the rest of the day.
I was lucky enough to be on one of these boats when two minkes started swimming around below the boat.
Being the first in the water I was the first down the line and therefore the furthest from the boat and got the best view of the whales. They were circling below us and occasionally came up to surface just in front of where I was floating.
The most amazing thing about the experience was something which took me completely by surprise. My head was under the water when I heard the whales communicating with each other. They were talking to each other. It was truly magical.