Not bad for the first activity of my Okinawa trip. Off to the port we went Tuesday morning and got on board an Okinawa whale watching tour. I’ve been on a few in other parts of the world — Mexico, Patagonia — but this one delivered some serious gasps. I missed a lot of great photos, despite being rather close to several humpback whales in the waters between Naha on Okinawa and the Kerama Islands to the east, and brought back a lot of shots of a splash or a fellow traveler’s iPhone smack in the middle of a really close shot. But several of the whales breached, we got a lot of spouts and tail fins, and one humpback spent a couple minutes at the surface floating on its side and “waving” at us with its huge fin.
There’s a reason Okinawa is great for whale watching, explained our guide. When the mother has its calf, the calf hasn’t got the blubber protection yet for the very cold waters up near the Aleutian Islands. So the mother comes here to warmer seas to rear the calf. The mother whale nurses the calf without feeding herself and loses a lot of weight during this time. If you want to go whale watching in Okinawa, the season starts in late January and ends in late March.
And now on to the photos!