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    The photos below document a “top lifetime experience” I had in 2002. I took all the pictures with my Olympus 3040z in a custom plastic case. It was hi-tech at the time.

    We were staying for 10 days on a liveaboard diveboat in the Silver Banks between Turks & Caicos and Dominican Republic – more than 80 miles from any land. We spent each day in small 6-person groups on a Zodiac looking for humpback whales to try and photograph by sneaking up on them with our snorkels.

    One day, right before we were going to head back for lunch, we started following a whale that was breaching over and over again. We counted 40 breaches. Then, during a “rest period” we slipped into the water and approached him.  Turns out, he was thrilled to have something/someone to play with.

    He was named Valentine. That’s what the crew of the liveaboard call a friendly whale.  We determined he was a juvenile, male humpback who was abandoned by his Mom. His Mom now had a new baby. Other males in the Silver Banks were all fighting – it was mating season. He didn’t care about that and didn’t want to get beat up either. He was just lonely. So he circled us and mimicked us with spinning and rec slaps for four hours.  Not until we were all in the boat taking a rest break – then he slapped his tail and swam away. What an experience!

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