Episode 7 - Humpback Whales of the Silver Bank


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The Silver Bank is the largest breeding ground for North Atlantic humpback whales. Gene Flipse, owner and operator of Conscious Breath Adventures, joins us to discuss and share stories from one of our favorite whale experiences, swimming with humpback whales on the Silver Bank.

The episode begins with Sara and Jeff discussing the latest sightings from our whale watching tours with Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching from Friday Harbor, Washington. There have been a lot of Bigg’s killer whales in the area over the last few weeks, including a day with 54 killer whales in 11 different groups. We’ve been seeing examples of topics we discussed in episode 6, especially the fascinating social dynamics within matrilines in this population.

We highlight two families from our recent sightings. First, we discuss the 124A2’s and 124A4’s, two young sisters who have been recently been traveling together along with their kids, separately from their mom and other siblings. We also discuss an interesting split in the iconic matriline, the T18s, with T19 and T19B traveling separately from T18 and T19C. We also give a quick update on the saga of T65A5. We conclude the latest sightings by describing an epic evening tour watching the T49As, T19 and T19B hunting a large Steller sea lion.

In the second half of the episode we talk with Gene Flipse, owner and operator of Conscious Breath Adventures, about one of the most amazing and life changing whale watching experiences we have had, seeing and swimming with humpback whales on the Silver Bank.

Our discussion provides background on the Silver Bank and Conscious Breath Adventures’ trips to see and swim with humpback whales on the Silver Bank.

The Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic was first established in 1986 and has been successfully managed since then. Only three permits have been issued to commercial operators, making it so exclusive that less than 700 people visit the Silver Bank each year.

We discuss the details of Conscious Breath Adventures trips and how respectful, in water encounters unfold, along with the methodical process used before swimmers can enter the water. We talk about what successful in water interactions are like and how humbling and powerful these encounters can be. Throughout the discussion we each share stories of what it is like to be out there, from whale watching, swimming with moms and calves, and being in the water with a singing humpback whale.

We conclude with Gene telling us the multiple meanings behind the name of his company, Conscious Breath Adventures and Jeff and Sara talking about how these trips have changed their lives.

Note: Sara is running a photo workshop with Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching from Friday Harbor, WA on September 16th & 17th. There are a few spots remaining. Please contact us if you are interested!

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For complete show notes, links and photos, please visit our website: https://www.afterthebreachpodcast.com/e/episode-7-humpback-whales-of-the-silver-bank/

Links mentioned in this episode:

Photos mentioned in this episode:

T124A2's and T124A4's. Photo by Sara Shimazu

T49As, T19, T19B hunting a steller sea lion. Photo by Jeff Friedman

T123 hunting a steller sea lion in 2020,. Photo by Sara Shimazu.

T19B, After the Breach! Photo by Jeff Friedman

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