Somewhere over the rainbow…

Last trip was an adventure that consisted mostly of Save Koh Surin club members, where we witnessed whales breaching and spy-hopping the first time. Unfortunately, that was a trip that no one brought decent cameras along with them, and we weren’t able to capture those amazing moments.

This trip on August 18th, however was a completely different story, with almost all photographers on board.  I have never seen so many Nikon cameras and equipment on one boat, and now I have.

Also on board with us is one of the most famous bird experts in Thailand, Smith Sutibut; and we have Khun Pui,  a mother of two, who brought along her son and daughter in hopes of seeing whales in the gulf of Thailand.

Anyways, we arrived at the pier early and we headed out on a northeast route at 8.46 a.m.  We passed along the mussel farms to see birds on the way, although it wasn’t until 12.39, or after lunch on board that we were able to spot a whale’s dorsal fin, although it only appeared once before it disappeared on us.

Around eight minutes later we saw two more whales, the same ones that we saw on our last trip with Mae Sakorn and, Look Tha Chalom. That didn’t last too long either because about 15 minutes later, we never saw it again.

Most of the time was spent constantly following on one whale (believed to be Jao Mesa) that simply did not come up to do any lunge feeding activity at all for a few hours. We were only able to spot its blow from a distance.

We were all secretly hoping that it will come up for a lunge feeding at any moment, and was always a bit let down as it gave another big sigh at us. And so by 3 p.m. it became rather depressing.

Tour decided to make the final call by telling passengers that we will head back to the pier – and it felt like a defeat. It felt like all of our passenger’s arsenal of cameras and equipment completely disarmed.  Like an army of 300 already retreating the great Xerxes.

And believe it or not, the moment Captain Lek was steering his vessel back on a return route to the pier, two whales started lunge feeding like crazy at a close distance! It was Mae Kanya and Jao Maruay.


It was as if they were intentionally testing our patience! And I have to say if losing patience means being able to see something worthwhile, it eventually paid off handsomely.

We watched both the mother and the calf lunge feeding krills continuously for almost an hour and we watched them till our heart’s content.


As we headed back the sun begin to set, and the ocean is basked in warm yellow light, and the trip ended with a spectacular rainbow casting across the sky.

Because somewhere over the rainbow, there will be whales in Bangtaboon.


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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