Captain Wallace had slowed his craft to a crawl the moment he’d seen the pod, and now let the boat drift, having cut the engines to spare the sperm whales the irritating noise and to ensure the safety of their calves.
They all watched as an adult and her offspring streamed away from the boat, the little one disappearing below its mother’s huge body, then popping up again beside her.
“Oh, no!” cried Joanne. “I hope that mother doesn’t drown her baby!”
“It’s nursing,” Miranda reassured her, “just doing what’s called peduncle diving so he or she can get the milk she squirts out for him.”
“It’s just disgusting, if you ask me.” Lime Woman stood back from the rail as though trying to avoid contamination from being too close to the creatures in the water.
“It’s absolutely thrilling, if you ask me.”
Miranda, drawn by the unexpected quality in the man’s voice, glanced over in time to see Mrs. Lime regard her husband as if he’d just spoken in a foreign language. Miranda, suppressing a laugh, returned her attention to the water.
About half a mile from the pod, her eye caught a flash of movement. Hope that’s more of the family group. I pray it’s not an orca coming after the calves . . . but we’ve seen no sign of the killer whales. She saw it again—this time the distinctive, angled spout of a sperm whale, but what she saw of the head was huge . . . too large to be a female. Which means . . . it could be her mate!
Miranda slung the camera strap over her shoulder and bolted for the wheelhouse, where she blurted to Captain Wallace, “I think one of the mates is close by—probably the pregnant female’s partner. If he thinks . . . if he gets the idea we’re too close. . . .”
“He’ll try to ram us. Got it.” He pushed the engine into reverse. “Time to back away.”
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