Swimming with Blue Whales: A Dream Come True

Mario Carlos Carneiro Junior

05 Nov 2018

A lifelong whale fan goes in search of the world's largest animal

I’ve always dreamed of seeing a whale.

Since I was a kid, I have been quite fascinated by giant animals. Of course, dinosaurs were my first favourite subject. But soon I discovered that there are big creatures, even bigger than dinosaurs, nowadays. So, whales have become my favourite animals. In times before the internet, I read many books and watched a lot of documentaries about cetaceans. I still was a dinosaur kid, but most of all, I was a whale kid!

And since I liked big animals, it’s no surprise to say that the blue whale, the biggest creature of all time, has become my favourite animal.

My interest in whales never ended, but for some reason, I reached adulthood without seeing a single one in my life! I was not a traveller type, I guess, and I never looked for a whale expedition. In my country, it's not possible to dive with whales – we can only see them from boats – and although it looks incredible, it never seemed enough for me. I wanted to dive, I wanted to swim with those gentle giants. I already knew it was possible for marine biologists, but I did not know if it was possible for a tourist. To dive with whales continued to be only a dream.

Two years ago, I discovered Natural World Safaris.

I was looking for some photos of blue whales for my desktop, and suddenly found photos of some people snorkelling with blue whales! Those images took me to NWS’s site, where I found out that they took people to swim with whales, all around the world. It was possible for me to realise my dream!


Click here to view our Sri Lanka Blue Whale Safari.

The NWS team’s attendance was excellent. Their Destination Specialists answered all my questions, and helped me with everything I needed. But let’s skip this part, and let’s talk about the journey I chose: distant Sri Lanka, where I would find the legendary blue whale!

I arrived at my destination on a sunny day. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, and although very poor, the people are cheerful here. A driver had picked me up at the airport, and took me to the wonderful resort where I would spend my days. There I met Joshua Barton, Patrick Dykstra and Sara, the expedition guides, as well as the other travellers, Mohammed, Cara and Dean. The guides were very helpful, and informed us of everything we needed to know about diving with blue whales (but I will not tell. It’s part of the adventure! LOL).

On the second day, the guide informed us that some whales had been spotted. After some delay (which was not repeated on other days), we got on the boat and went out to sea. We sailed for a long, long time. Actually, I do not think it was that long, but I was very anxious. My dream was so near, I needed to see a whale as soon as possible to stay calm. Time didn’t pass.

Suddenly, the guide said: “There’s a whale nearby. Who wants to go first?” I held up my hand before he could finish the phrase. Dean would go with me.

The next moments are a little blurry in my mind: I remember trying to get ready quick, the difficulty of putting on the fins and mask, the hurry to hang me over the back of the boat that was going faster and faster... and then, the most expected word: “GO, GO, GO!”. In the next second I was in the water (the most pleasant and transparent water that I’ve ever seen), following Dean and our guide. My feet moved very fast, just like my heart. I kept swimming, hoping she would not dive before we could see her. And we swam, and we swam...

Suddenly, there she was.

The mythical blue whale.

There are no words to express the thrill of seeing that colossal creature appearing from the blue. She seemed very old, like a prehistoric creature, with wise eyes and very peaceful movements. The sunbeams illuminated that aerodynamic body, more blue than the blue of the sea. And what about her size? She was so gigantic that my sense of proportion became all messy; she was a little far from us, but it seemed that I could reach her just by stretching out my arm. As fast as she appeared, she was gone, plunging into the darkness of the sea.

I remember standing on the surface, laughing and crying. It was the most exciting time of my life.

Well, I think it’s best to stop here. I just wanted to express a bit of the emotion of doing this kind of journey. I saw other whales on other days, some even closer than the first one, and I had several wonderful experiences on that trip. I saw other animals, like bats, birds, dolphins, turtles and crocodiles. I made good friends that I will never forget. Natural World Safaris gave full support all the time, and I really want to plan another trip with them. Those were the best days of my life and my biggest adventure…

For now!

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