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Sperm Whales!!

Recently came back from birdwatching (i know, they're quite different from marine mammals...ha ha) sortie in the municipality of Sablayan in Occ. Mindoro when we chanced upon two pods (groups) of sperm whales!!

The last time I saw sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in Philippine waters was way back in 1995.

The most amazing thing about these guys in Mindoro was we encountered one pod of six whales in the morning. It had two calves in that group. Then on our way back from Apo Reef, we encountered another pod of 9 whales! This time, with only 1 calf. It could possibly be only one pod. But hey, we saw 9(!) whales!

It was also a good thing that they had calves which prevented the whales from diving very deep. Usually, when you see a sperm whale on the surface, it will stay there only for a few minutes. It will keep blowing air (expunging carbon dioxide while taking in oxygen), then it will dive very deep (as deep as 1,000 meters) to its feeding ground. The ones in Mindoro just kept on swimming in big circles! With some coming within ten feet from our boat!

Whale watching is not not yet an established tourist activity in the Philippines. But I'm counting the years since killing was made into a crime (which was bout 15 years ago). A few more years and the whale populations would jump back and this country could then offer this magnificent creature, not on a sushi platter, but for enthusiastic whale lovers. We've done that for the dolphins, it should also be possible for the gentle giants.

Three sperm whales that swim in tight pack.

The one in the middle is actually a calf, protected by bigger members of the pod.

A blowhole up close.


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