SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 16, September 2016 - Page 131

cold inside my wetsuit. I’ve ridden my body to its utmost being in and out of the water for multiple hours with only a chia-seed cookie as lunch. I’m so tired I can barely think, and my face is slapped with cold, yet all of my cells are shouting with happiness, Thank you for letting us experience this. I’m traveling with my whole body, alive with every nerve.

It is at that moment dolphins erupt out of the water around us. The layer of grey clouds in the sky subdue the sun, so that there is a lambent glow all around, a soft radiance that glances off the wet, muscular flanks of the dolphins as they hot-rod around in the spray. I almost cannot contain my heart.

At night to celebrate we drink screech—Newfoundland rum—in glasses filled with iceberg ice that we break with an icepick. We talk about whether the capelin are yet “rolling” up onto the beaches (“Everyone says it’s the cod that built Newfoundland, but it’s the capelin,” asserts Stanley), and engage in arcane local rituals of which I cannot tell you more (you will find out if you go).

If you do decide to travel north to snorkel with the whales, here are some tips for you. To take photos, you need a waterproof housing and a secure camera—the deck of the zodiac is going to be wet and you’ll to be quite awkward with thick neoprene gloves on! Per the water temperature, many of my friends wore drysuits but you may find a wetsuit affords you more mobility. When swimming, stay close to the group, to create one large “body” which is less irritating for the whale to process. And it’s important not to chase whales, no matter how much you might get a shot. Once a whale decides to “peace out” on you, you will only see the edge of their flukes fading far away into the depths.

When I return, I want to spend at least one day SCUBA diving to the graveyard of whale skeletons that rests beneath the cove at Dildo, which used to be a flensing site. I want to dive deep down and bear witness for the whales who lit the way of humans through a different time.

But mostly, I want to be in the water with the whales alive. It is a privilege to share their element, even if you only glimpse them for a moment. On the day before we leave, the water is too rough for boating, so my sister and I drive out with friends to Cape Spear, the easternmost point on the North American continent. There, the horizon doesn’t stop ‘til Europe, and the sky is vaulted with light that shifts from dusk to sunny noon depending on the direction you look. In the distance, the whales feed offshore. They exhale plumes of mist into the air, and spiral and crash-land in magnificent breaches, utterly free in this realm of land, sea, and sky.

You can view OceanQuest’s offerings at oceanquestadventures.com. The destination airport is St. John’s, YYT.

Laura Marjorie Miller writes about travel, magic, myth, natural history, ocean conservation, and other soulful subjects. Her work has appeared in such places as Utne Reader, Faerie, Yankee Magazine, The Boston Globe, elephantjournal.com, Dive News Network, GotSaga, and Tripping. She is based in Massachusetts, where she lives with a cat named Huck.

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