Gabon Expedition: Humpack Whale Sightings

Mike Fay’s exploration of Gabon’s untouched wilderness led to 11 percent of the country being named national park land. This inspired Enric Sala to explore and help protect similarly pristine areas of the ocean around the world. Now the two explorers go back to the beginning to explore the murky waters off the coast of this African nation.

We continue our dives under the rigs. Amazing amounts of fish. Today we decided to film the last of the humpback whales on their way south. There are a few thousand humpbacks that come up from Antarctica every year to breed off the coast of Gabon. Usually they are gone by now but we are discovering that there are still hundreds around. Lots of them are females that have babies and so they are probably slow. We saw a baby today—it was tiny. Crazy to see all these giant whales making their way through the network of oil wells.

We saw whales several times but these guys are all swimming fast south at this point. I got one picture of one tail.

Now we are heading south too, to dive the rock off the border between Gabon and Congo.

A humpback’s enormous tail flukes rise above the horizon. (Photo by J. Michael Fay)


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  1. Kathy
    Ontario, canada
    October 16, 2012, 10:37 am

    I find my self very lucky because I have been able to a humpback whale in the ocean, it has t be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. We were off the coast of NJ, USA.
    I would love to be able to swim with these beautiful giants. I adore whales of all kinds and find them fascinating.

  2. Catherine H
    Boston, MA
    October 15, 2012, 10:20 pm

    YEAH!! for the Humpbacks! What a glorious day it must have been for you ~~just seeing the tail on the horizon — I would have been SO EXCITED! I think all whales are the most fascinating creatures–but there is something about the Humpback that I find almost mesmerizing–maybe it’s their songs… Thanks for the news and wonderful photo