Times of the Islands Winter 2019/20

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Presents the "soul of the Turks & Caicos Islands" with in-depth features about local people, culture, history, environment, businesses, resorts, restaurants and activities.

You can meet the whales on a day boat trip from Grand Turk, without a lot of other boat traffic around you.

Although there are plenty of watersports to keep you

entertained in the TCI (including diving, snorkelling, paddle

boarding, kayaking, wind surfing and kite surfing),

one of the most awe-inspiring, mind-blowing, adrenalinepumping,

truly exhilarating and absolutely breathtaking

experiences here is that natural wonder—the Humpback

whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Every winter from early

January to late April, migrating Humpbacks turn the

waters of the TCI into an amphitheatre for one of the

greatest spectacles on the planet—the calving, nursing,

courtship and mating rituals of these incredibly powerful,

yet sublimely graceful, marine mammals.

Although whales may be sighted throughout the TCI

during the season, the Turks Islands, comprising Grand

Turk, Salt Cay and several smaller cays, may be considered

the hot spot for people focused on meeting a whale.

This is due to the fact that two very deep passages run

on either side of the Turks—the Turks Island Passage to

the west and the Mouchoir Passage to the east. These

passages provide natural corridors of navigation for

the whales as they migrate into TCI nursery grounds.

Furthermore, the vast expanses of shallow reef systems

surrounding the Turks Islands offer the perfect habitat

for a mother whale to stop, rest and begin nursing her

newly born calf in a protected environment, safe from the

hazards of the deep sea.

Best of all, the TCI is one of the few locations in the

world where it is actually possible to swim with humpbacks.

Other destinations for this unique experience

include extremely remote islands in Oceania, the Silver

Banks (Dominican Republic) and Australia. However, TCI

has several advantages for the discerning whale watcher,

including its relative proximity to North America, Canada

and Europe. Grand Turk is only 600 miles south of Miami,

meaning travel costs are significantly lower and you leave

a much smaller carbon footprint when compared with a

trip to Oceania!

Day trips to meet the whales are shore-based from

Grand Turk. This is very convenient when compared to

the necessity, expense and constraints of a liveaboard

trip to the Silver Bank, the only way to swim with the

whales from the Dominican Republic. Finally, the whale

watching industry in the TCI is in its infancy. This means

that there are only a handful of operators offering the

experience, and the feeling of “too many boats” that may

be experienced in some other destinations is still very

far off here. Hopefully, with proper management of the

industry’s growth, this uncongested feeling around the

whales can be preserved.

The Humpback is well known as a gregarious and

playful creature. On any given day you may observe

numerous aspects of their behaviour. One of the most

26 www.timespub.tc

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