photos by Bonnie Pelnar, article by Jen Pobiak
Bonnie Pelnar, from Underwater Colours, was teaching a photo workshop at Scuba Club (which she does bi-annually) when she managed to capture these amazing images of False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens) underwater. Since it was during one of her photo-seminars, everyone on board the Reef Star was a photographer. We had just finished our dive at San Franciso Wall and were heading north toward our second dive site, Santa Rosa. The captain shouted that he had seen whales and we started noticing several pods making their way north. There were at least 60 or more as they were cruising along side our wake and surfacing right along-side our boat, as well as along-side several other dive boats in the vicinity. After watching them for 15-20 minutes, several of us jumped in with snorkel gear and cameras.*
While we were in the water, several of the curious whales came to check us out. A friend of ours, Kevin Frillman, can be seen in one of the photos freediving with one of the whales. We saw him dive down and slowly turn and the whale did the same in synch! I had my own special encounter as two of the whales came toward me and circled me, one coming within arm’s reach. I cannot even begin to describe the shivers that I felt as I made eye contact with this beautiful, intelligent animal. It was an absolutely amazing experience. It reminded me that I am just this small entity, this little fish in a huge sea, yet we are all connected. There was this beautiful intelligent animal and we had this encounter for just a moment. It went on with its travels and I will be going on with mine, but I will never forget it as a constant reminder of just how precious our oceans resources and animals are.
*It is recommended to exercise great caution and not get in the water with these whales. Although social, there is no real documentation of how these wild animals interact with other species. The people in our group who entered the water were advanced scuba divers and photographers with past knowledge and experience of snorkeling and diving in deep waters with marine life.