The humpback whales of the TCI are famous worldwide, and whale watching is one of the key draws for visitors to the islands. No matter how jaded you may feel with the difficult state of 2020, the site of these wondrous beasts frolicking in the ocean will reinvigorate your soul and renew your spirit. The best news of all is that whale season is imminent, and if you’re hoping to enjoy a spectacular whale watching experience in the Turks and Caicos this year, it’s time to get your booking with the Big Blue Collective sorted.
Is there actually a ‘whale watching’ season in the islands?
It may seem strange to think of, but yes! The whale migration takes place each and every year, and is actually a key part of the humpback whale’s lifecycle. Imagine trekking across 5000 kms of water (and back) every year, heading between your best feeding grounds and the perfect place to raise a family. This is the longest recorded migration of any mammal anywhere- and yes, it is almost like clockwork!
Antarctica in summer offers them a bounty of plankton and krill to feast on, but these populations die off in the cold winter. By this point, however, the whales have amassed thick layers of fat known as ‘blubber’, ready for their long swim. The Pacific beckons them with warm, friendly waters perfect for play, rest and raising their young.
Incidently, while there are places to see whales globally, that’s why some of the very best sightings in the world occur here. This is where they breed- meaning big displays from the hopeful males- calve and play in some of the gentlest waters in the world, allowing us lucky humans to spot them in a playful, happy mood.
Where to see whales in the Turks and Caicos?
So, we know that the whales are mere visitors to our shores, as they pass through on their way…what then makes the TCI such a great place for whale watching? The whale migration sees them start arriving at our shores as we cusp into December, but why do they come at all?
There’s a piece of quirky geography in the Turks and Caicos that means the pods have to squeeze through a relatively small area of ocean. That’s due to the fact the islands themselves sit on a natural ‘shelf’, plunging to deeper water in channels between them. This effectively funnels them between the two larger Turks and Caicos Islands, amplifying the chances of seeing a stunning display 100-fold. Add to that the need for the males to put on impressive breeching, tail-slapping and other displays to win the hearts of the females, and you can understand why sightings here are like nothing else in the world.
With the Big Blue Collective permanently busy in (and under) the water, we’re often among the first islanders to spot the incoming pods. Once the first sightings roll in, the islands are abuzz with divers, snorkelers, private charters, and other folks sharing where they last spotted whales. While sightings can happen anywhere, the beaches of Provo and the super-calm seas at Salt Cay both make excellent vantage points to wait for news.
So, can you guarantee whale watching in the TCI?
This is, of course, a natural phenomenon, and as with anything in nature you can’t guarantee anything. Yet, through our decades in the islands, we’ve never not had a fantastic whale watching season here. You’ll find the whale migration takes place in spurts, with lulls of quiet in-between. The whales travel in family pods, so they each arrive at their own time in the area. If you’re hoping to enjoy a spectacular whale experience, the key is to be ready to hit the water at any time. Flat seas on warm days encourage the whales’ happy spirits, and you’re more likely to see play in that weather.
It’s important to draw a little attention at this time to the fact that the whales, for all their beauty, are fully wild animals. This is why the Big Blue Collective uses the expertise of Phillip Shearer to ensure responsible, ethical whale experiences under the Silver Banks guidelines of the Dominican Republic. We do not chase, prod or otherwise interfere with the whales, which has been a key part of building us a decade of intimate, unique encounters with these amazing beasts. Do no harm and leave no marks are words we live by. This ‘gentle’ approach leads to friendly, unrushed encounters that aggressive pursuit never will shape.
Imagine the thrill of huge plumes of water erupting close by, seconds before a whale launches themselves from the water in full breach. Imagine falling asleep to the distant sound of whalesong, or watching it’s mighty tail slap down on the water surface. No two whale experiences are ever the same, and the benefit of having a guide who understands them wholeheartedly only deepens the experience. Guests who come for the whale migration leave forever changed by the memories they make and the sightings they have, and even the locals who live here have yet to be jaded against the whale’s magic.
The humpback whales of the TCI will be back within just a few short months, and if you were hoping to join us for the whale migration this year, it’s time to get your whale watching package under wraps. These spectacular experiences fill out quickly, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Big Blue Collective today.