Guest blog post from Jim Sim, director of The Liberty Project in Panama
I have seen Orcas in shows several times, those are fabulous sights of man and beast interacting. But those shows do not compare to being in a boat in the Pacific Ocean and seeing Humpback whales up close in their natural habitat.
Leaving from Boquete with Panama Pathfinders, we had an organized and well-informed tour-guide who grew up in Chiriqui and knows the region well. Listening to whale songs in the van on the way there and learning some basics of whale interaction, habits, and mating rituals only increased our anticipation of what was to come, and it did not disappoint.
Following our drive, we set out by boat from Boca Chica with our group of 12 including our two guides and boat captain. After about 20 min we began to see signs of whales and, sure enough, within a few minutes we saw a whale calf come to the surface for air, and right behind the calf, the mother.
To see the size – from about 100 ft away – of this animal was awe-inspiring!
But the best was yet to come
Our guide spotted breaching whales in the distance about a mile away, so we set off accompanied for part of it by a couple of dolphins shepherding our boat. We got to that area only to find a small inlet where a humpback whale had stopped to feed her calf.
We slowly idled up to her from behind with the engine off and came to about 10-15 ft of her and her youngster. Her calf didn’t seem at all concerned that we were there. To be that close and see the enormity and gentleness of this amazing mammal was an experience I will never forget, and in part because the guide filmed it and sent me the film later.
After absorbing all that, we headed for a few hours to a private island beach to enjoy the sun and sea. Finally, on our return, we were able to take in a leaping manta ray, some howler monkeys onshore, and a couple of other whales breaching in the distance.
It was remarkable and truly inspiring day worth every minute and every penny. The experience was value for money and a snapshot of the natural beauty and wonder of Panama!
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