The world‘s finest diving

Caribbean Dominica sperm whales dive shutterstock 754808017 opt LAST MINUTE SPERM WHALES
Dominica November 7-15 & 14-22, 2021
NOW 1 SPACE AVAILABLE EACH WEEK


If the luck holds, you will interact with the “Group of Seven”, the best-studied social unit of sperm whales in the world.  They’ve been observed off the coast of Dominica since 2005.   Photographer Christopher Bartlett will be leading this very special expedition of 6 people maximum.


2 SPACES HAVE JUST OPENED UP – ONE ON EACH OF THESE TRIPS


November 2021
07-15 Nov Jungle Bay Resort, Soufriere 
Single occupancy with full breakfast $6000 pp

14-22 Nov Soufriere Guest House 
Single occupancy self-catering $4300 pp

Contact us to book


A BIT ABOUT THE ANIMALS


As background, you may want to know that the sperm whale male can reach up to 18 meters and weigh up to 60 metric tons, while the females are about a third shorter and half as heavy. Also, the sperm whale also has the largest brain and the longest intestine on the planet!

Sperm whales form strong lifelong relationships. They babysit for each other, have family traditions passed on by grandmothers, learn a communal dialect, and have different ways of life that resemble our various cultures. They live rich, complex and interesting lives.

The sperm whales off Dominica are predominantly groups of females and their dependent calves living together in ‘units’. In the Caribbean, these units are small, about 7 animals, and appear to be matrilineal, (a female line of grandmothers, mothers, and their calves; referred to as families). Young males leave their families in their early teens to roam the open ocean, mostly alone, and may never see their families again. Units of females and their young regularly travel across ranges spanning several islands in the Antilles, but they appear to remain in the Caribbean as these families have never be identified in the neighboring waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Sargasso Sea, where there is also sperm whale research.

 DOMINICA SPERM WHALES COMPOSITE


SOCIAL RECOGNITION & LANGUAGE


Over 20 different whale families have been identified in the waters off Dominica, and there are about 10 that are seen regularly. Based on researchers’ images, It is known that they have been using these waters since at least 1984, but likely much longer based on their life history. Sperm whales can live to be older then 70 years. Meaning they meet a lot of other whales over their lifetime. It would appear that families have preferences with each other, and these social preferences endure across decades, suggesting that individuals can remember each other despite long separations.

Researchers think this social recognition is mediated by distinct dialects of Morse code called ‘codas’. Each family has a slightly different coda repertoire, but also share coda types with the other units in the Caribbean. Shared repertoires delineate socially segregated ‘vocal clans’ – collections of units that share a similar coda dialect. Units which share the same dialect associate and spend time together and units that have different repertoires never gather together.

In the Caribbean, the ‘1+1+3’ coda type, which sounds like ‘Click-pause-Click-pause-Click-Click-Click’, is unique to the region. It has been used for at least the last three decades, and is made the same way by all the whales use it, like a marker of Caribbean nationality.


WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE TRIP


Each morning you will go out and use underwater listening devices to locate whale families. Once you’ve found a unit, three people will slip into the water.

Interaction time with one unit could last 30 seconds or 15 minutes, the whales decide. If the interaction lasts more than a few minutes, the three people in the water will swap places with the three on the boat, rotating every few minutes so everyone gets a chance to share the encounter. If the interaction is too brief to allow a switch over, the next encounter will start with the other group of three going in first.

There have been interactions that ranged from 30 seconds to one that lasted 90 minutes. Out of five days there was only one day without a Sperm Whale sighting. There were other cetaceans and the views are not bad at all !   The other days, guest all had at least 20 minutes in the water with a minimum of four whales at a time, up to 90 minutes with seven.

The interactions can take place several miles out to sea, which could be calm or could have some swell. You should be prepared to spend plenty of time on the boat waiting for encounters and looking out, and should also be prepared to do some swimming to approach and follow the whales.

Packed lunches and hot water are on board for teas and coffee. Water temperatures will be in the low 20s, but in the water you will be moving quite a lot, so a 3mm wetsuit will be more than sufficient for most people.

Contact us with questions or to book


ACCOMMODATION


Accommodation has been arranged at three different properties which you will see below.  You will spend your days on the ocean “whale hunting”, returning the comforts of your accommodation for the evening.

November 7-15 
Jungle Bay Resort, Soufriere  … Beautiful resort overlooking Soufriere and Scotts’ Head
Single occupancy with full breakfast $6000 pp
Double/twin occupancy with full breakfast $5000 pp

DOMINICA JUNGLE RESORT

November 14-22 
Soufriere Guest House  … There is a well-equipped communal kitchen, dining room and outside areas to relax. It is a 10-minute walk from the seafront and Bubble Beach natural spa.
Single occupancy self-catering $4300 pp
Double/twin occupancy self-catering $4100 pp

DOMINICA SOUFRIERES

November 21-29
Fort Young Hotel … 4-star hotel in Roseau, the capital of Dominica
Single occupancy with full breakfast $6200 pp
Double/twin occupancy with full breakfast $5100 pp

DOMINICA FORT YOUNG

 


ITINERARY, RATES, WHAT’S INCLUDED, TRIP DETAILS


{slider The following is a sample itinerary based on weather, sea conditions & animal behavior. View the daily itinerary, travel information, what’s included & what’s extra  …   continue reading|dest|closed}

DATES & RATES:

November 7-15  Jungle Bay Resort, Soufriere 
1 SPACE NOW AVAILABLE … Single occupancy with full breakfast $6000 pp
Double/twin occupancy with full breakfast $5000 pp FULL

November 14-22  Soufriere Guest House
1 SPACE NOW AVAILABLESingle occupancy self-catering $4300 pp
Double/twin occupancy self-catering $4100 pp  FULL

November 21-29  Fort Young Hotel  … FULL
Single occupancy with full breakfast $6200 pp
Double/twin occupancy with full breakfast $5100 pp

THE PROGRAM:

5 days on the water, 1 day land tour

Day 1  Arrive Melville Hall airport, transfer to accommodation
Day 2  Sperm whales
Day 3  Sperm whales
Day 4  Sperm whales
Day 5  Sperm whales
Day 6  Sperm whales
Day 7  Sperm whales
Day 8  Island tour
Day 9  Return to the airport

THE RATE INCLUDES:

Extras:

BOOKING:

As permits require the participants’ names to be submitted, and as changes are very difficult to arrange with the government, a 50% non-refundable deposit is required to secure a spot. The balance is due 90 days before the trip starts.  If the island closes its borders, the trip will be rescheduled.

COVID:

A negative PCR test, not older than 72 hours, is required to enter the country. A rapid antibody test is carried out on arrival. Once this is passed, you proceed to the accommodation. Speak with us for more detailed information.  We strongly recommend travel insurance with a COVID clause.  DIVE ASSURE is one of the recommended options.

ARRIVING & DEPARTING FLIGHTS

Dominica is serviced by two airports: Douglas-Charles (DOM), formerly known as Melville Hall, and Canefield (DCF) Airports.  You will want arrive through Douglas-Charles, as it is the larger of the two airports and your transport will be furnished from here.

International flights from US and Europe are connected to the island through hubs in Antigua (ANU), Barbados (BGI), St. Maarten (SXM), Puerto Rico (SJU), and Guadeloupe (PTP). Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) offers direct connections from ANU, BGI, and PTP as well as other connecting flights across their 22 island network into Douglas-Charles Airport.

Seaborne Airlines provides daily service into Douglas-Charles Airport from Puerto Rico. The airline has a code share agreement with American Airlines allowing travellers to book their flights to Dominica directly through American Airlines.

We will be happy to assist with your travel to and from Dominica {/sliders}


YOUR GROUP LEADER


{slider Your escort is our friend and colleague, Christopher Bartlett, an underwater photojournalist, a South African trained field guide & a keen conservationist.  Christopher’s photos and articles appear regularly in dive publications around the world.   He learned to dive in South Africa and has a wealth of experience diving with there, in the Bahamas, the Galapagos, Papua New Guinea and for the past several years, here in Dominica. … read more … |dest|closed}

Christopher will escort the trip from start to finish, providing local knowledge and photography coaching along the way.  He’s bi-lingual French/English so a great choice for our French-speaking friends!

Christopher leads trips several times per year, looking for desert elephants in Namibia, or walking and sleeping under the Zululand stars in a Big Five national park, exploring the rugged tracks and wilds of Botswana, having a bit of lodge luxury in Zambia, or mixing the remote but wildlife abundant landscapes of southern Tanzania with the culture and beaches of Zanzibar, or in the Caribbean and the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.  Past clients rate him as a terrific guide. {/sliders}

 


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