St. John’s Antigua- Each year, the EAG convenes a special field trip to commemorate Earth Day. Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, as it is every year. The global Earth Day Network put forward a “Mobilise the Earth” theme as they continue in their ‘one billion acts of green’ campaign.
For our 2012 Earth Day field trip, the EAG organised a whale-watching excursion in collaboration with Eli Fuller’s Adventure Antigua. The idea was so well received that the 32 allotted spaces for the April 14 trip filled in no time. At the last minute, to not disappoint the long waiting list of persons, a second boat was graciously added to the plan.
One EAG Board member related that he immediately jumped at the chance to go whale-watching. “After all, I love the sea and have always stood amazed at its many wonders and dangers,” he said.
The 55-strong group boarded at Jolly Harbour Marina. After the customary, “folks hold onto your hats,” the captain let the engine go. In no time, we were slashing through the waves. The day was serene and relaxing with mostly sunny skies and a few overcast periods to keep things cool. The ride was bumpy at times, which was fun for the adventurous ones, but spelt trouble for the ones who had too much lunch.
Our destination was an area near Shirley Heights where whales were sighted earlier that same day. The view from boat was spectacular. Antigua is very beautiful and the southern landscape lends heavily to that beauty.
Then, there was a shout and we all turned to the suggested direction. It turned out to be a shark. The shark had spotted the fishing lines that one of the crew had thrown out or, rather, it had spotted lunch that had just taken the bait at the end of the line. Almost simultaneously, a small tug on the line turned into a much bigger tug as the crew struggled to reel in the catch. Shortly before they were finally able to reel it in, the tug slackened considerable. The result: half of a fish after the shark had taken a nip out of it. But, no whales yet.
Later, there more shouts but, this time, it was to draw attention to a flying fish. This one flew for a few yards then disappeared again into the waves. Again, no whales.
On the sea, customary courtesy includes acknowledgement of other seafarers with a simple wave of the hand. As we passed a French craft, our greeting was returned from the man on board tending his mask and sunbathing in a manner to eliminate all tan lines. One mom tried in vain to shield her daughter’s eyes but, oh wel l… We were all one with nature in different ways on this Earth Day excursion. Again, no whales.
We were eventually taken to a known feeding ground for turtles. That was great. We saw a number of leatherback turtles peeking up out of the water for air and also to look at us but from a safe distance. Still, no whales.
But, the trip was worth it. “The views and the unexpected and unpredictable nature of the sea and the power of that boat did it for me”, said one ‘whale-watcher’. There were also lots of drinks, snacks, and good conversation and a few laughs.
At the end of the trip, we didn’t get the impression that not seeing any whales had left anyone completely disappointed. All seemed to be happy and relaxed, and the children had a blast for certain.
It was wonderful to be one with nature, enjoying the tranquil seas, beautiful Antiguan shorelines and cool unpolluted winds. Mobilisation complete, it was indeed a great day for appreciating the wonders of the Earth.