A lucky day at Bangtaboon

This morning we arrived at the pier at 9.10 a.m. with a group that is mostly members of Save Koh Surin, an environmental club dedicated in preserving the beautiful natures of Surin Islands.

 I was told by Captain Lek that it has been a rough week at sea. Out of the five times he was out, he was unable to spot any whales at all. There were two occasions that he had to head back early due to the extreme weather. He said hopefully today will be a lucky day for all of us. I hope so too.

Chomwhales recently received support from Garmin Thailand, who kindly gave us their innovative GPS technology so that we can use them to specifically pinpoint where whales are spotted in the gulf of Thailand. This was the first time that we have brought this device to our trip, and I was hoping we will get to use it to track one. After some tinkering, it was ready for use. I find it easy, intuitive and very practical to use for our whale identification activities.


We headed to the mussels farm to take pictures of the birds before we took off again. On our way, we witnessed a barge with fishermen removing their large fishing nets filled with anchovies. I also noticed Khun Jumroon’s boat ahead of us. We were talking among ourselves and were just about to hand out the quizzes at 10.30 a.m.

But we never had the chance to do so, because the whales has already appeared. This marked the first time that we were able to spot whales so quickly in less than one a half hours!

We saw the mother lunge feeding first, before another calf followed right beside it to our pleasant surprise. Took us a while to later find out that it is Mae Sakorn, a veteran mother who raised Jao Tha-Jeen as a calf to its adulthood, and she is now raising her new calf Tha Chalom along her side.


This also marked the first time ever that we all witnessed both whale breaching (defined when whales leap at least 40% of its body out of the water) and spy hopping (characterized by whales rising and holding its position partially out of the water).

A very rare sight to see with our own eyes, and something all of us were extremely excited to see that day to our very pleasant surprise. It was a great show, seeing nature at its best moments.

We watched them from a distance for two and a half hours before we head back to the pier. A brief, but one of the most satisfying trips by far. Not only were we very lucky this time, but there was a lot of never before seen encounters.


About the author

Pairat Temphairojana (Pai) is working as a journalist in Thailand. It was in 2009 when he first saw blue whales in a whale-watching tour in Alaska – and upon hearing that such majestic creatures like the Bryde’s whales is populating in the gulf of Thailand, he did not hesitate to join as a whale-watching guide in Thailand. He believes that having proper standards and regulations for a safer whale watching activities in the gulf of Thailand is necessary and can lead to a more sustainable tourism for the locals living in the region. Pai will be regularly joining us on board as a field observer and a reporter on our frequent visits to the Gulf of Thailand.

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