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Humpbacks and Petrels

Andrew Perry
Quartermaster, Steve Irwin

A rare, rare treat today.  Today I Spent most of my PM watch (from 1200 to 1600 hours) making minimum steerage-way around an iceberg with thousands of snow petrels resting on the waters surrounding it, along with numerous pods of Humpbacks.  As we gently maneuvered through the water towards the iceberg, the birds suddenly flew into the air, circling in formation around the ship and iceberg - part cyclone, part ballet.  And all this occurred under the watchful eyes of the Humpbacks.

Both the chopper and Delta were deployed with media.  Three humpbacks in particular stayed with us the whole time, watching us, circling us, as they played with each other.  Sometimes just meters away from our ship, these three Humpbacks were completely untroubled by our presence, even with the chopper hovering above filming them.  It was almost as if they welcomed the company; as fascinated by us as we were by them.

And this is the great tragedy of the whale's disposition: they are so curious and so trusting. Whalers use this to their cruel advantage when they come to the Sanctuary to slaughter them.  This time spent with our clients, the whales, has reinvigorated our drive and our commitment to protect them, and to make this campaign a successful one.

So we resume our chase of the whaling fleet.  We resume our drills and refine our readiness.  And we slip through the quiet waters of Antarctica like a shadow across ice, fuelled by a purpose and passion that no paycheck can buy.



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