This week I had an amazing whale watching experience in Geographe Bay near where I live.
Out at sea, I got to watch massive humpback whales splash and jump and slam their tails, and swim under the boat and just be generally awesome.
Getting good photos on a bobbing boat with whales moving about is not easy, so although they breached (jumped right out of the water) the best photo I got of that was a big splash:
But I did manage some great tail shots, including this one:
Which got me thinking of an old rhyme which went something like this:
If you ever ever see a whale
You must never never touch its tail
For if you ever ever touch its tail
You will never never see another whale.
(There is a longer version of this rhyme, with way more ‘evers’ in it. You’ll find it, beautifully illustrated here.)
and of a Shel Silverstein poem about Melinda Mae, which begins:
Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would
So she started right in at the tail.
(You can read the rest of that sorry tale here).
There was no eating – of whales, or by whales – on my trip, much to everybody’s relief.
Since I got home I’ve been trying to write a poem which captures the thrill of seeing such massive animals leaping out of the water (we saw a double breach, which was pretty special – two massive humpbacks leaping at the same time, like massive synchronised swimmers) and the way that something so huge can be also so beautiful. The poem is still brewing, but that’s okay – sometimes an experience can take months, or even years, to work itself into a poem.
In the meantime, I have photos, and memories. Wonderful memories.