Here is the story of my very first whale kiss! Enjoy :-)
Entirely surrounded by the deep blue pelagic water I see the pod of sperm whales in front of me. With slow and peaceful movements they socialize close to one another. Those massive grey animals really seem to enjoy their time together.
.The sunbeams are breaking through the calm and clear surface in the most delightful way creating the most wonderful dream like vision. It is a perfect day for shooting underwater and the animals all seem open and cooperative. They know I'm there and I perceive no sign of change in their playful behaviour that would indicate they feel disturbed by my presence in their environement.
We are out in the Atlantic Ocean, a short distance off the coast of the green volcanic Azorean islands, here I will soon experience one of the most remarkable encounters of my young career as Underwater Photographer.
We are here to get footage of the biggest toothed aquatic creature still in existence, the sperm whale. Underneath me I have a good 1000 meters of clear bleu Atlantic water, one of my favourite surroundings. I truly love pelagic waters and the life it holds.
.As I do not want to disturb their socializing moment, I keep my distance while photographing these majestic mammals in their clear and infinite blue environment.
I´ve spent quite a good time in the water when one of the younger animals suddenly leaves the group and curiously swims towards me. Her grey-brown eye looks directly into mine as she passes by only a meter away.
She then returns back to her family, but I can read her body language which tells me that my new curious friend keeps being very interested in my presence.
.Without any unnecessarily movements I keep totally calm in the water while watching the behaviour of the pod. The group consists of both old and young animals, including new born calves which still have their umbilical cord visible.
The bigger whales helps the small ones to surface when they need to breath, while the rest of the pod keeps swirling and rolling around one another, playfully rubbing themselves together anyway they can.
.I'm really amazed by the sight, up to 50 tons mammals so freely swirling around in the water. Some of them are floating vertical with heads down, while others are heads up making some short peak above surface with their big roundish heads.
All around I hear their social "talking", a clicking sound that fills the entire surrounding. "Click, click, click.... "
.While the rest of the group members continue to socialize with each other my new friend seems to have increased her curiosity with the eye contact we had earlier. And so she leaves the pod one more time.
Once again the juvenile sperm whale takes the course towards me, but this time with a much slower speed. Slowly, slowly the distance is getting less between us. She stops and starts to send sonar to check me out and then she keeps swimming closer and closer while increasing the strength of her sonar.
I feel the vibrations in my entire body. They are getting stronger and stronger the closer she gets. Equipped with free diving gear and a 3mm wet suit I keep quiet at the surface while taking pictures and viewing the scene through my wide angle. Picture after picture the whale is now only a few inches away still sending her strong sonar through my body.
.Suddenly I feel something touching my hip and when moving my eye from the viewfinder I see that the whale has started to gently push me. I'm thinking to myself what will happen now.
The sperm whale doesn't show any signs of aggressivity, she mostly feels curious and maybe a bit playful as well. But what is playful for her might not be so good for me. I still keep totally silent and calm waiting for what will happen next.
With gentle movements the whale keeps pushing me in the water and then she opens her mouth. It looks like she wants to try a new way to figure out what is that funny thing she has found. But her head is too big and her mouth to far from my body, so she keeps giving me little pushes without succeeding to get her lower jaw close enough.
Without any more attempts to try something more she suddenly stops and swims quietly back to her sperm whale fiends again...
.This was my little story of a very special moment in my life :-)
Below you find a 5 min sequence with footage from some of our close Sperm whale encounters, including "The Big Kiss"!
A sequence from our film "Last Giants of Europe", a cooperation between Crystal Water Film Production, Swedish National Television and Norwegian National Television.