Today was the first day of this whale season that I paddled out to see if any whales would come visit. The conditions were ideal with glassy water and little swell. I paddled out probably a mile and a half or so and "parked". I had seen some blow from the beach but no real surface activity. After about a half hour of realizing that there were a number of pods around me but only coming up for air, I noticed a pod a couple hundred yards away that remained on the surface and were headed my direction. One of the whales was on its back and lifting both pectoral fins in the air. I rapped on my surf ski a number of times to let the whales know that I was there and seemingly in their path. They kept a leisurly pace in my direction so I slipped into the water and clipped myself to the surfski and just waited. Soon they appeared in the deep blue.
Below are two cropped and zoomed in portions of the above image. I had hoped for an eye to eye encounter but the closer whale seemed to have its eye closed the whole time it was close to me. The sun was dead ahead of their path and I don't know if that had any bearing on this or not. I always see fish following the whales and this encounter was close enough to get a good view of a pair.
Another zoom crop of the fish:
The sequence of shots above transpired in less than 30 seconds. I would guess that I had visual contact of the whales as they cruised by for about a minute. I didn't follow them and just returned to sitting on the surfski after the encounter. There was no curious calf here and the pair were content to swim by me very close and continue on without coming back. I sat for another hour on the surfski and activity continued around me but no other whales elected to come in for a close encounter. For my first whale trip of the season, I couldn't be happier with this short and sweet visit!
I feel I should comment on the fact that I used photoshop to adjust the white balance in some of these images. With the Nikon set on daylight white balance, the whites are quite on the cyan tint given the rapid loss of red underwater. The image below is the same as one of the ones above but it has not been treated to any white or color balance:
The days of needing a red filter and loosing light in the process seem to be over.