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THE GENTLE GIANT

«So here I am, out in the vast blue Atlantic Ocean surrounded by nothing but a vast horizon line, a deep abyss, a sailboat and a sleeping sperm whale!»

A JOURNAL BY BIRGITTA MUECK

Out in the deep, blue immensity of the Atlantic Ocean, with more than 400 kilometres to closest land, I am watching the playful sunbeams disappearing into the infinite abyss beneath me. Even after many years of open water sailing and snorkelling, it still gives me the tingling butterfly feeling when looking down into this vast, blue, pelagic environment, knowing there is at least a couple of kilometres of seawater between me and the ocean floor.

It is, however, not the sunbeams that have made me carefully slip down into this salty environment this time. Surrounded by nothing else but an endless horizon and our small expedition yacht, I calmly snorkel further into the limitless surroundings. This is when I see the huge shadow, slowly appearing in front of me.

The open ocean has won a huge part of my attraction, what captivates me the most out here is the fascinating marine life found in these vast, deep and partly un-surveyed waters. But this is also a very demanding and difficult area to work in as it is both extremely weather dependent and remote. Out in pelagic waters, where land is nowhere to be seen, I really feel how tiny and exposed we are when simply being an insignificant dot on a huge oceanic globe.

This time, we are very fortunate with calm sea conditions for many days, allowing us to spend a good week at sea, exploring more of a pelagic seamount area called King ́s Through.

Life out at sea can be dreamlike in fair conditions, but also the most uncomfortable when bad weather hits in and days of seasickness crave for attention. However, in the very end, it is the unique wildlife encounters I get to experience out here that count. No matter how seasick I might have been, when I finally find myself in the water with the marine creatures I am so passionate about, it all makes sense.

So here I am, out in the vast blue Atlantic Ocean surrounded by nothing but a vast horizon line, a deep abyss, a sailboat and a sleeping sperm whale!

The huge, grey, vertical laying animal does not make any movements where it effortless is hovering just beneath the surface. As it apparently still is not aware of my underwater presence, I stop all of my movements to quietly observe it from a distance.

Still, after 10 minutes of distant observation, the sleeping giant does not show any signs of waking up any time soon. Even though my wish is to film the whale, I don ́t want to disturb the individual as I aim to always let the wildlife choose whether it wants to approach me or not. In this case, it means that I patiently wait for the whale to wake up, hoping this will result in a curious and welcoming approach from the whale.

And so it does. After another five minutes or so, the sleeping giant finally begins to leisurely move its huge body. This is when it first seems to acknowledge my presence. Very slowly it turns itself towards me and starts to get closer, ever so quietly. In the meantime, I move nothing but the focus of my camera. The distance between me and the unhurried whale gradually decreases as the animal slowly swims straight towards me. The friendly giant examines me with its sonar until it almost touches the dome port, and with a curious eye, it looks deep into the camera before it peacefully continues it´s journey, into the vast big blue.

Moments like this have shaped my life and I am indescribably grateful for every single moment I am fortunate to spend among those gentle and peaceful creatures who are filling me with such deep respect, awe and wonder. So much there is to learn from them.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Birgitta Mueck´s bio: https://waterproof.eu/diving/ambassadors/birgitta-mueck/

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