This post is also available in: Spanish
The whales are going home soon! Did you have a chance to see them? If not, this is the last chance to do so this year.
Each year, around 1,500 humpback whales return to Samaná and adjacent waters to give birth and mate for the following year. Their journey is a long and slow trek spanning from the polar regions of the North Atlantic to the warm and clear waters of the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic and Hawaii happen to be the top destination for Humpback whale watching in the world. Adult whales typically weigh around 30,000 kg (or 33 tons!!) and their lifespan is around fifty to sixty years.
Humpbacks continuously travel at around three to seven miles per hour with few stops, and they feed on krill and small schooling fish, such as capelin and herring. Interesting to be such a large mammal and eat such small fish! But, let it be known that they consume around 2,500 kg of it per day!
Humpbacks can be easily observed, either at their feeding or breeding grounds, but Martina Avanzini notes it might not be suitable for small children:
“It’s a magical experience to see the whales. I wouldn’t recommend small children to go, because both of the times I went the ocean was never really calm so the boat would jump a lot. Plus, we had to search for the whales. We followed their splash when they came out of the water to breath, and we would drive the boat in the direction they are.” Martina
She, along with friends including, Jorien de Quezada, went to see the whales a few weeks ago and really loved their experience. Jorien said, “It was an amazing experience to be so close to these magical animals. You realize how small you are when you see whales that are 20 times bigger than you and moving so smoothly. When you see that, you want to jump in the water and explore the world under sea.” They stayed close by in Las Terrenas and drove to Samana. For tips on where to stay, view the details below.
The enormity of whales make them an excellent source of excitement to see, but they are also well known for their sounds. Each pattern or “song” is thought to have a specific purpose.
HUMPBACKS IN SAMANÁ
Every winter, the majority of the North Atlantic Humpback whale population (approximately 12,000 whales), migrate between 2,000 and 4,000 miles from their northern feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine, the east coast of Canada, Greenland and Iceland, to the warm Caribbean waters of the Dominican Republic to reproduce.
These magnificent whales then spend the months of January, February and March “cruising” the North Dominican coastline, courting and competing for the opportunity to mate. This is also the time when pregnant females will give birth to their young (after a 11.5 month gestation!)
Throughout the mating season, Samaná bay itself is visited by more than 1,500 Humpback whales, meaning that at any one time there may be as many as 300 whales in the area. Not only do Humpback Whales jump around a lot and gaze at people, Humpbacks are famous for their spectacular open-mouth surface feeding techniques and for their songs, sung in their breeding grounds.
Humpback whales have been migrating to the Dominican Republic for mating season for centuries; in the “Los Haitises” national park, indigenous drawings can be seen depicted the whales and Christopher Columbus recorded seeing them in 1943 in his ship’s log.
WANT TO SEE THE WHALES?
To go see the Humpback whales in Samaná, you can choose to drive over and spend 2 or 3 nights in Samaná. Due to the popularity of this activity, there are literally hundreds of different options, but because they are all very similar, we recommend to book with your hotel — that way you will be picked up and dropped off again at your hotel.
Something else to also keep in mind is the size of the boat — whatever you do you do not want to be in a small “yola”, the ocean is rough and with hundreds of whales out there, a small boat simply isn’t safe, or comfortable for that matter. And with whale watching regulations prevent boats getting “up-close” — larger boats, with their high vantage point, offer far superior visibility.
The following is a tour offered by Xeliter Vista Mare:
SEE THE WHALES AT SAMANÁ WITH XELITER VISTA MARE
- Children (age 4-12): US$33
- Adults: US$65
Hours: 9am – 3:30pm
Includes: Transport from Xeliter to the port, visit to the whale sanctuary, whale watching, buffet lunch in Cayo Levantado, time to relax on the beach at Cayo Levantado
For accommodation options with Xeliter Vista Mare visit www.XELITER.com or call (809) 562-6725.