Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
It happened in the archipelago of the Society, near the island of Maupiti, ocean side, of course.
It was during a diving trip, with the adorable Lionel Clin, monitor of Maupiti Nautique [EDIT: the Maupiti diving center is now known as Maupiti Diving and it is held by Yannick and Nelly]. It is the only structure on the island for scuba diving (finally, "structure" is a big word, let's say that it is Lionel's house that serves as a center, and, for to dive, just contact him: he organizes everything for you, he picks you up and takes you to his boat).
That day, there are four of us on the boat: a couple of French divers, Emmanuelle and Bruno, Lionel and myself. We have just finished our dive.
Still wet, we prepare to return to the island when Lionel spots the gray back of a whale between two waves.
Quickly, I take back my fat waterproof box containing the camera, with which I just made pictures underwater.
I do not have time to wipe the dome, on which the drops still trickle. With the weight of the box, the swell and the drops of water, the photos will be rotten, but too bad.
We scan the waves, when suddenly, close to us, on the port side, there is this strange noise: "Pfffff ... pschiiit ..." At 2 meters from the hull of the boat, we see a whale appear!
Or rather, a calf. Yes, it is smaller than the whale seen further (the mother, presumably), but of good size anyway! Surely bigger than our boat.
Not shy at all, he came to see us up close, really very close - we realize it well on one of the poor pictures that I managed to take, since there is even in the frame, in the left corner, the blond hair of Emmanuelle ...
We just have time to catch a glimpse of his curious eye for a brief moment, and here he is diving! He probes under the boat, disappears, and comes out on the other side, to starboard! It stays a little on the surface, taking its distance, this time, then disappears again under water.
Unbelievable ! ! !
We hesitate for a moment to get into the water, in palms-mask-snorkel only, to try to see the whales again, but the waves and the current dissuade us.
We come back, excited, amazed ... Not coming back from our luck.
The breath of the whale
Since scuba diving (my first bubbles date back to 1999), I had the chance to cross the road (on a boat or underwater) some big beasts that live in the sea: dolphins, sharks, moonfish, manta rays and even whale sharks (well, a whale shark, in Richelieu Rock, Thailand, in 2006)…
But never before, I had met whales.
So, of course, it's something to see coming out of the water, close to the boat, the enormous gray backdrop of a big beast that makes "Pffff ..." Before being impressed by the show, by the size of the animal, I am touched, upset, by his breath.
There is no more moving than this hissing, this exhalation, which means: this beast is not a fish, this beast is like me, it breathes air, all the same as me ...
Short. I met my first whale in Maupiti, Polynesia. And I still do not recover.