Whales would do well to fear our world. Many have marks and wounds, testaments to struggles with fishing gear or ship-strikes. ‘They're tough,' says João when I climb back into the boat, babbling my description. ‘They heal very well.' Their bodies appear as forbearing as their cetacean souls, although I was once rebuked for daring to presume that a whale might possess such a thing.
I think João is laughing at me. Back down below, a young calf eyes me up, then spy-hops at the surface for a better look. Underwater, it's pale, cherubic and innocent, till it lets slip a cloud of runny poo in my face – possibly an act of defensive deception, or maybe even play. It's joined by another, equally inquisitive juvenile. Emboldened by each other, they come a little closer.
Suddenly, their number is dramatically swollen: a huge female, with an additional two calves, twirling around to appear out of the turquoise gloom. I sing to myself as I'm caught up in the crowd; I've never shared the water with so many whales. There are whales across the entirety of my vision; wall-to-wall whales wending this way and that; perpendicular, horizontal, vertical columns in the sea. More than ever, their subtle colours shine through the water; the filtered light playing on their backs, dancing on their sides. Only something so huge could be so elegant; they move more delicately because of, rather than in spite of, their mass.