Samana Whale Watching Trip, Part 1

The humpbacks are here every winter, like clockwork.

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Samana Whale Watching Excursion

As the humpback whale watching boat Victoria II ploughs through the high waves toward the mouth of the Bay of Samana, I hop up and down in my seat like every other passenger.

We're all wearing ourselves out as we continually jump up to photograph tail flukes and waterspouts that our imaginations keep creating in the tossing, white-capped waves.

Each one of us would like to be the first to shout either the English or Spanish version of ?Thar she blows!?

We have every right to expect humpbacks at any moment. The Bay of Samana on the Dominican Republic's northeast coast is one of the world's most important mating and calving grounds for humpbacks.

Each January between 2,000 and 3,000 of the whales arrive in the Bay to mate and calve. They stay until the calves are fit to travel, which is about the end of March, then return to their summer feeding grounds located between North America, Greenland and Iceland.

The Bay of Samana is an extension of the humpback reproduction grounds around the Silver Banks just north of the Samana Peninsula.

The whales journey south because newborn calves, even though they weigh about a ton, lack enough fat to survive in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. With a gestation period of about a year, the calves are the product of the previous season's breeding efforts.

These and other facts about humpbacks are announced to us over a loudspeaker as we scan for any sign of whale activity.

Seated next to me is a 10-year old girl named Nina who lives 3 hours away at Cabarete on the Dominican north coast.

Hugging tightly to her most important possession, a pink knapsack with the famous blonde-haired Barbie doll, Nina is amazed to hear that so many humpbacks travel to her country to have their babies.

?If they're all born here, then are all the whales Dominican, like me?? she wants to know. Technically, yes, according to some humpback experts.

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