Story About Scar

We're packed up and getting ready to leave Dominica. It's been a fantastic first trip to this lovely island nation, and I'm looking forward to visiting again.

Before I head out, I thought I'd share a story about Scar, a male sperm whale that seems to seek out and enjoy human company. He's the whale featured in the recent newspaper articles from our trip.

I was fortunate enough to watch Scar interact with his fellow cetaceans when there was no one else in the water (read...during a couple of exhausting, prolonged swims).

Scar seems to enjoy playing, whether humans are involved or not.

I watched Scar play alone...twirling in circles, doing loops, hanging upside down...while other whales in his group seemed to be busy doing other stuff. I also noticed that Scar seems to be the favourite uncle or older brother for the two calfs that were in his group.

Here's a photo of the two calfs swimming along with Scar:

scar with two juvenile whales

I took this photo after witnessing an entertaining and memorable scene.

There are a few sperm whale researchers here at the moment, led by Hal Whitehead. During one of my prolonged swims with Scar, I saw the sonar array that they were towing behind their vessel, at a depth of around 20 to 25 metres.

Scar saw it too, and he swam down to take a look, eventually taking the the sonar array into his mouth for a taste test (I guess that's the logical thing to do if you're a sperm whale).

The two kids were swimming separately, but they must have noticed Scar having a good time, and they swam over, looked down at Scar, stopped to consider what Scar was doing, then rushed down to join in the fun.

Here are the two youngsters moments before they decide to crash uncle Scar's party:

sperm whales with hydrophone

I laughed just enough to swallow a bit of seawater.

While we're on the topic of sound, this is a short sample of sperm whale sonar communication, which we picked up on our boat's hydrophone:


The most prominent clicks are from an adult male. There are other, more faint clicks in the background that are from females and/ or juveniles.

Off to the airport.

Note: Photos taken under permit.